Jan 182005
Authors: Lila Hickey

Official Code of Ethics:

As responsible retailers in the Fort Collins community, we agree to establish and abide by a Code of Ethics for serving and selling alcoholic beverages.

1) We diligently check ID's to ensure that we do not sell alcoholic beverages to any person under the legal drinking age (21). Our employees are trained in how to validate the authenticity of ID's.

2) We encourage designated drivers as well as public transportation and community ride programs for customers who may be at risk of exceeding the legal limits for alcohol intake.

3) Our employees are trained in how to identify individuals who are inebriated, and we will not sell or serve alcohol to those individuals.

4) Our employees are trained to contact the authorities if they suspect individuals may exhibit signs of alcohol poisoning.

5) We follow the rules and regulations of the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor Enforcement Division.

6) We support state and local law enforcement personnel and practices.

7) We will conduct our business in a respectable manner and will not tolerate activities offensive to the senses of the average citizen, or to the residents of the surrounding neighborhood.

8) We will use promotions or drink specials in our establishments that promote responsible consumption of alcohol.

9) We promote alcohol awareness and education within our establishments.

10) We are community members, neighbors, tax-payers, parents, contributors to local charities and proud to conduct business in Fort Collins.

Alcohol retailers have faced criticism in the community and scrutiny from a subcommittee on CSU President Larry Penley's alcohol taskforce since the alcohol-related death of CSU sophomore Samantha Spady in September. But many of the retailers feel this criticism is unwarranted.

"There has been sort of a negative feeling," said Mike Poppenwimer, owner of the Sundance, a popular bar and country-line dancing establishment. " (But) it wasn't so much the retailers, it was the kids having nowhere else to go."

Poppenwimer and other retailers in and around Fort Collins have increased efforts to prevent binge and underage drinking. They also want citizens to know these efforts were in effect long before the tragedy.

Recently, a group of Fort Collins alcohol retailers presented a code of ethics to the taskforce subcommittee examining alcohol-related legislation, distribution and advertising.

The code of ethics, which has been endorsed by many local alcohol retailers, many of them near campus or in Old Town, includes the following:

* diligently checking identification cards to avoid selling to minors.

* encouraging designated drivers, public transportation, and community ride programs for customers who may be over the legal blood-alcohol level.

* employees are trained to identify and refuse service to inebriated individuals

* employees are trained to notify authorities in case of alcohol poisoning

* follow rules and regulations of the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor Enforcement Division

* support state/local law enforcement personnel and practices

* conduct business in a "respectable manner" and will not tolerate "activities offensive to the sense of the average citizen"

* use promotions and drink specials that promote responsible alcohol consumption

But for Lori Brunswig, a Fort Collins resident, the retailers' code is not enough.

"It made the Coloradoan and the Denver Post as though it was very innovative, but I thought it was watered down," Brunswig said. "It really doesn't say anything; it's not committing to anything."

So Brunswig responded by writing her own code of ethics. She submitted her suggestions to the subcommittee, but has not received a response from the taskforce.

Brunswig took aim at such topics as gender-specific advertising, drink specials and keg registration, areas she felt the retailers' code overlooked.

"If you have four beers in front of you, you're going to drink it faster than if you have to order each drink separately," she said.

Brunswig is also troubled by sexually-oriented advertisements, such as common "ladies' night" programs run by many bars and clubs.

"You should only use gender-neutral ads," she said. "Basically, (ladies' night) is just a bait to get men in there."

But many retailers feel they are doing plenty to promote safe drinking, including extensive training and alcohol education programs. Poppenwimer said all Sundance employees receive alcohol training ranging from Training for Intervention Procedures, a popular alcohol education program, to CardioPulmonary Resuscitation certification.

"We do have a lot of respect for alcohol and for the responsibilities of selling alcohol," Poppenwimer said. "You can't have enough education about something that can kill you."

Poppenwimer is not involved in the recently developed code of ethics, because the Sundance is outside city limits. Instead, he is a member of the Larimer County's Retailers for the Responsible Sale of Alcohol, a self-regulating group.

Brunswig also advocates keg registration, a process to prevent keg buyers from reselling beer to minors. Keg registration programs require the purchaser to leave a form of identification with the store as collateral until they return the keg. If police find minors drinking from it, they can trace where the keg came from and prosecute the original buyer.

She suggested Fort Collins retailers are avoiding keg registration, but Wayne Hunter, owner of Supermarket Liquors, said this is not the case for his establishment.

"Kegs are just one of the things we sell," he said.

Hunter also noted that buyers have to prove they are legally allowed to purchase the keg.

"If you're meeting all the other regulations, I think it's just overkill," he said.

Hunter felt it was important to present the code of ethics to the taskforce, which he has agreed to uphold.

"The community and the taskforce doesn't know the precautions we already take," he said. "We are responsible, we do these things, if we didn't, we'd get shut down. The police wouldn't tolerate it."

Eric Love, a former CSU student, agreed.

"I definitely don't blame the retailer unless they're not checking IDs or selling to minors," he said. "(If they are) the license is revoked and they pay the penalty."

Love, who has bought kegs in the past, agreed that registration would be annoying for buyers

"I would definitely see that as a hassle, if I had to go in and leave my license with them or they had to take down my license number," he said.

He was also concerned that buyers might be punished if minors sneak into large parties and drink illegally.

"I would just fear repercussions down the road if underagers did get into the party," he said.


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