AGLC Under 25 ProgramKeeps Liquor Out of the Hands of Minors
We’ve all had the experience of meeting people for the first time and horribly missing the mark about their age. Faced with that scenario in your licensed establishment, the key is to request identification. A key focus for Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) is providing choices Albertans can trust, and one way we live up to that commitment is keeping products out of the hands of minors. One major focus of these efforts is the Under 25 program for all licensees in Alberta.
AGLC has a long-established policy requiring licensees to request proof of age from anyone who appears under 25 years of age when entering a minors-prohibited premises or attempting to purchase or receive liquor. The policy came into effect in 1994 for retail liquor stores and was expanded to include all licensees in 1996. As licensees are aware, the policy is detailed in both the Retail Liquor Store Handbook and the Liquor Licensee Handbook.
In addition to the long-standing policy, the Under 25 program itself was created in 2002 after AGLC conducted an audit of a cross-section of liquor licensees to determine the level of compliance with this crucial policy. The program is intended to strengthen the existing policy and ensure compliance for the safety of all Albertans—especially youth—by encouraging retailers to take an active interest in ensuring liquor stays out of the hands of minors.
As licensees and their employees can no doubt attest, it is often very difficult to tell if a person is of legal age just by looking at them—some 16-year-olds look 30, while sometimes the reverse is true as well! That’s why licensees must ask for proof of age—it eliminates the risk that a purchaser of liquor may possibly be a minor. Licensee staff are required to obtain valid identification and verify proof of age whenever a person who appears to be under 25 years of age attempts to buy liquor or to enter a licensed premises where minors are prohibited.
Those requirements are put to the test through the Under 25 program, where AGLC conducts inspections utilizing AGLC employees who appear under the age of 25. The Under 25 program is conducted throughout the year and can include a number of inspections dependent on the level of compliance.
First audit compliance is noted internally with AGLC and licensees are not notified of passing the first audit. While licensees used to receive notification if their establishment had passed an audit, that is no longer the case to ensure that licensees continue to follow the under 25 requirements. When it comes to your first audit compliance, it is truly a case of “no news is good news”.
If a premise fails a first audit, the licensee will be notified of the failed audit, an ‘Inspector’s Caution’ is issued and the licensee is notified that a follow-up audit will be conducted. This is a chance for a licensee to remind staff of the importance of the Under 25 program, and to ensure that the policy is being adhered to. If a premise fails a second audit, the licensee is advised and an administrative sanction will be imposed.
The purpose of the program is to create a safer environment for all Albertans and to ensure that alcohol is not sold to those under 18. At the end of the day, high compliance rates are good for business, and good for the well-being of all Albertans. AGLC is pleased that based on 2017 and 2018 compliance statistics, rates of compliance saw an increase of 2%. We hope to see these numbers continue to increase in 2019.
So remember—when you see a customer who appears to be under 25 years of age—it might be hard to tell, but you have to ask!