Letter to the Editor: Increase profits while decreasing problems

To the Editor:
The spring and summer months offer a great opportunity for community members and visitors to get out and enjoy the fairs and festivals local residents work so hard to make possible.  In order to continue hosting successful events, it is important to develop and update policies and procedures to protect attendees, as well as event staff and volunteers.
Fair and festival coordinators are encouraged to take steps in alcohol management, illegal drug use prevention, and enforcement of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. The cost of irresponsible alcohol service at a community event can cause fights, arrests, property damage, higher security costs, negative public image, liability lawsuits, and lost patronage. It is also important to keep community events appropriate for all ages. Because marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among youth today and is more potent than ever, it is in your best interest to prevent its use and avoid the consequences that can hinder the success of your event: risky decision-making, impaired judgment, criminal activity, or driving under the influence. Lastly, we encourage event planning committees to help save lives while complying with the Smokefree Air Act.  Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, with thousands more dying from spit tobacco use. Event planners can take measures to protect the health of attendees by enforcing this law through creating a tobacco-free policy.  
Helping Services for Northeast Iowa offers free resources and guidance to put these practices into action that will increase profits while decreasing problems. These resources include a step-by-step guide to successful alcohol management, tips on keeping events free of pro-drug merchandise and paraphernalia, outlines for creating a tobacco-free policy, sources to borrow ID scanners from to ensure alcohol is not provided to those under age 21, and trainings to encourage responsible beverage serving--all ways to protect staff, volunteers, and event-goers.  We encourage our local planning committees and event staff to take steps to make their events as family-friendly and safe as possible.  Contact Carol Hopp at (563) 387-1720 ext. 104 or chopp@helpingservices.org or visit www.helpingservices.org/bestpractices for more information.
For 40 years, Helping Services for Northeast Iowa has been promoting the health and well-being of children and adults. We work to end domestic violence and child abuse; build healthy families, friendships, and relationships; and reinforce positive decision-making about alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. Staff provides presentations, research-based programs, trainings, and advocacy to work with community members in creating safe, nurturing, and healthy environments.

Carol Hopp, Community Prevention Specialist
Helping Services for Northeast Iowa