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Policy Research
Host Responsibility
on Licensed Premises

'Host responsibility' refers to a set of strategies aimed at creating safer drinking environments by changing the behaviour of those providing alcohol, either in private settings or on licensed premises. This is intended to help reduce the risks of drinkers harming themselves or others. A campaign promoting Host Responsibility was launched in 1991, following the development of the National Guidelines on Host Responsibility by a working party coordinated by the Alcohol Advisory Council.

As part of communication research evaluating ALAC's host responsibility campaign, a number of research projects have focused on host responsibility practices. Three reported here assessed attitudes and practices to host responsibility on licensed premises:

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Stakeholders' Perceptions of
Host Responsibility in 1991-92

In 1991-92 the Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit undertook qualitative interviews with community health promotion workers, Maori community workers, licensing inspectors, and hotel/tavern and nightclub managers who had requested ALAC resources on host responsibility. Recommendations from this research included a mass media campaign directed at hosts of licensed premises, targetting sports clubs and nightclubs. Host responsibility should be promoted as good business practice, and the focus on drink-driving extended to include alcohol-related violence, encourage moderate drinking, and raise public awareness of licencees' host responsibility obligations under the law. It was recommended that components of the campaign be more appropriate to Maori and rural communities, and a number of respondents wanted advertisements to be harder hitting.

Sally Abel, Allan Wyllie, Aroha Panapa, Sally Casswell

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Monitoring Host Responsibility
in West and South Auckland

Between 1993 and 1995 a three part study of managers of licensed premises was undertaken in Western and Southern Auckland to examine attitudues and behaviours relating to host responsibility. As well as interviews with managers, environmental audits of the premises were also undertaken. This research was part of the evaluation of a collaborative community project to reduce alcohol related traffic injury among Maori.

Although some refusals to participate were attributed to lack of support for host responsibility, researchers reported widespread suppport for host responsibility and many of its components. All premises had improved their hosting practices in some way over the period. The research underlined the importance of Compulsory Breath Testing in encouraging resonsible behaviours related to drinking and driving and use of alternative transport was reported as widespread. There was good provision of food, including full meals, and of low alcohol beer, although there were signs that availability was decreasing in 1995. Most managers were positive about house policies on host responsibility although display of these was limited. Data from the 1995 national survey suggests that managers may have been understating issues around intoxication and underage drinking.

There was some contact between health or community workers on host responsibility issues, including with South Auckland community action project kaimahi. The West Auckland community action had elected to focused on priorities other than licensed premises. Managers were positive about the role of Maori wardens, although these were not often present. Some managers had contact with the police and most had contact with their District Licensing Agency, although comments suggested that inspectors were not using this contact to reinforce the host responsibility message.

Researchers: Robert Webb, Allan Wyllie, Helen Moewaka Barnes

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Stakeholders Perceptions of
Host Responsibility in 1995

In 1995 the Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit was contracted by the Alcohol Advisory Council to measure the profile of host responsibility on licensed premises with key stakeholders; to indicate whether or not this had changed since the earlier study; and to evaluate and contribute to the further development of the host responsibility programme.

Interviews were conducted with 53 licensees and managers of pubs and taverns, nightclubs, sports and other clubs, selected to provide a mix of premises implementing host responsibility. A further 43 interviews were conducted with police, health protection officers and community health workers and host responsibility trainers. A third component was 10 interviews with Maori involved in host responsibility/manaki tangata. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by telephone, with responses recorded onto a questionnaire, with backup taping. See Findings below.

Host responsibility had a strong profile among almost all stakeholders. It was viewed very favourably and efforts to date had been well received. There was a strong desire for host responsibility to continue to be a major focus, both for ALAC and more generally. The Maori host responsibility programme, Manaaki Tangata had not been established long enough for the Maori stakeholders to feel it could be evaluated. There was support for an increased focus on this programme, but with resourcing and developments to be at a regional level.

The host responsibility programmes were seen to have led to some changes in licensed premise practices, but it was more with the things that are easier to implement, such as providing food, rather than intervening to stop patrons drinking too much. There appeared to be a growing acceptance that people liked coming to places that practised host responsibility and less concern with the economic viability of host responsibility. There was concern about practices in sportsclubs, where serving staff are generally volunteers. There was also some concern with nightclubs. Most licensed premise managers did not want increased contact from any of the health, licensing or police sectors. The ALAC mass media advertising was appreciated and there was support for its continuation.

Findings of this research are presented below.

Researchers: Francesca Holibar, Megan Tunks, Allan Wyllie

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Findings of 1995 Research on Host Responsibility

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Awareness of host responsibility

Providing food was most strongly associated with host responsibility by those interviewed. Also frequently mentioned were ensuring patrons did not drink and drive, providing alternative transport, avoiding intoxication, not selling liquor to intoxicated patrons, providing non-alcohol drinks and generally 'taking care of patrons'. A number mentioned a 'non-boozy' environment that would encourage clientele, the role of host responsibility in the licensing process, host responsibility training, providing entertainment as an alternative to drinking, not selling to minors and providing low-alcohol drinks.

All Maori respondents were familiar with manaki tangata. Some were using it already, others intended to in the near future. All felt it was still too early to determine how effective it is.

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Host responsibility by private hosts

The most frequently mentioned change of the last two years affecting private hosts was greater awareness of drinking and driving issues. Some of this was clearly attributed to compulsory breath testing, but non-drinking drivers and alternative transport were also mentioned. There was also felt to be a general increase in awareness of host responsibility, particularly the provision of food.

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Host responsibility in licensed premises

Generally, managers saw host responsibility as assisting rather than inhibiting them in operating successfully. They saw it primarily as increased awareness of legal responsibilities and as a framework for training bar staff. There was a relatively stronger perception than in 1993 that patrons responded positively to environments where host responsibility was practised, supported by the 'We're here to serve drinks, not drunks' advertisement.

Compared to the 1993 study, managers were clearer that host responsibility related to servers of alcohol rather than to drinkers, and were more accepting of this focus with less concern about a possible effect on financial viability.

While many believed host responsibility activities were widespread, others thought effectiveness varied between types of licensed premises. Resistance was felt to come from older patrons and licensees, with the need to make money the primary reason for not adopting host responsibility practices, as well as lack of trained staff. Sports clubs and nightclubs were noted by some as implementing the fewest host responsibility practices. The threat of losing the liquor licence was felt to be the main motivation for adopting host responsibility practices; although this was mentioned more often by 'other sector' respondents than by those in licensed premises.

There was a general perception of improvement in licensed premises over the last two years, in increased management/staff awareness and changing attitudes of patrons. The drink-driving laws and increased provision of food were mentioned, particularly by managers. Managers generally had few ideas about how communities could help increase host responsibility on licensed premises. Suggestions from other sectors included increasing staff training, monitoring and law enforcement, with a strengthening of host responsibility provisions in the Sale of Liquor Act.

Work by the Alcohol Advisory Council, the Hospitality Association of New Zealand and community health workers in promoting host responsibility was widely acknowledged. So too was the impact of drink-driving laws and associated campaigns. There was generally a positive response to the Alcohol Advisory Council television advertisements and resource material, particular 'We're here to serve drinks, not drunks', and among Maori, the 'I don't because...' ads which included Maori role models. All Maori respondents had seen al the manaki tangata resource material. Though the posters were visually pleasing, there was some criticism of wording.

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Underage drinking

There was a lot of support for an age identification card with photograph, or some other form of identification that could not be forged, and for tidying up age restrictions. Other sector stakeholders were more likely than managers to want more effective sanctions for serving minors. Sports club managers expected adults to be responsibility for underage visitors and depended on personal knowledge of club members. There was a general perception that enforcement of the minimum drinking age needed to improve, and that police and inspectors were more proactive in some areas than in others.

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Those in licensed premises felt that most managers would take action to prevent alcohol being served to drunks. Chartered club respondents were more optimistic about how well they dealt with intoxication than others were about them. People from other sectors felt most nightclubs would not be concerned about serving drunks; nightclubs managers held the opposite view. Most Maori felt sports clubs and nightclubs were less concerned about intoxication.

Staff awareness and the provision of food were thought to have helped reduce patron intoxication in the last two years. Greater staff awareness was partly due to police and licensing inspectors and fear of sanctions. Public awareness of host responsibility was also felt to be assisting. The provision of non-alcoholic drinks and display material was acknowledged, as were drink-driving campaigns and compulsory breath testing. Some managers felt there had been no change in the last two years because they had been performing adequately or for others the priority was making money. The aspect of responsibility that managers felt had helped licensed premises most was television advertising, both about bars and drink-driving. Most felt there had been positive change in patrons' attitudes to intoxication and towards host responsibility, with increased awareness of drink-driving issues and legal requirements on bar staff.

Suggestions for reducing intoxication focused primarily on public education, staff training, and providing alternatives such as entertainment, non-alcoholic drinks and food. Stakeholders from other sectors also mentioned more stringent licensing criteria and greater police presence and enforcement in licensed premises.

The majority of managers felt there would be no benefits to them in increased contact with health or community workers, police or District Licensing Agency staff. Those who wanted more contact with the health sector wanted information. Those who wanted more contact with DLA staff and police emphasised a cooperative approach so they were viewed less as the enemy. They mentioned police working more closely with security and door staff and on underage drinking problems.

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In most cases the only personnel on licensed premises who were getting formal host responsibility training were the managers, as part of requirements for a liquor licence, although in some areas this was not mandatory. In many cases managers were then training staff, although some staff, especially volunteers in sports clubs, were getting no training. The managers generally found the quality of the training they received to be good. Some managers, particular in nightclubs and sports clubs, said they were not aware of any host responsibility training being available. Others, particular in rural areas, felt there was a need for greater availability and access to such courses. Managers preferred training that emphasised practical skills and 'hands on' experience. Cost was seldom mentioned. Some seemed unaware of available printed and other resources for use in in-house training.

Stakeholders from other sectors felt there was considerable variability in the quality of available training, with some believing there should be a standard certificated course. Like the managers, they wanted an emphasis on practical skills. There was divided opinion on whether bar staff should be trained by their manager or receive outside training, with problems arising from casual employment being acknowledged. Access to training was seen as an issue, both in terms of cost and locality, particularly for rural areas.

Compared with 1993, stakeholders were less likely to mention the need for training for themselves.

Most Maori respondent felt extra training was needed to promote and implement manaki tangata and it was often suggested that manaki tangata coordinators be provided in each region.

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Future directions

The majority of managers and respondents in other sectors favoured an increased emphasis on host responsibility as a health promotion strategy. Some, especially managers, felt the emphasis on host responsibility should remain the same, but few thought it should decrease. Some Maori felt both host responsibility and manaki tangata should be increased, while others felt manaki tangata should receive greater emphasis since Maori feature negatively in statistics in this area.

There was divided opinion on whether future emphasis should be on licensed premises or private hosts. Among other sector respondents there was a tendency towards a focus on licensed premises, while the managers had the opposite view. Nevertheless, about half the managers supported either the main emphasis or an equal emphasis on host responsibility in licensed premises. Those opting for equal emphasis felt there was currently more emphasis on licensed premises and that this needed to be balanced. Many Maori felt more emphasis should be put on sports clubs, then marae and private hosts.

All sectors offered a wide range of suggestions for future host responsibility activities by the Alcohol Advisory Council. A number wanted more education for the general public, focusing on both private hosting and an awareness of legal issues for licensed premises, so they would be more accepting of management practices. Some wanted more focus on young people and other on 'hard core' drinkers. A number felt the Alcohol Advisory Council should essentially continue its current work.

There was strong support from all Maori for Maori initiatives at regional and community level with appropriate resourcing. These respondents knew what worked for their region.

With regard to mass media campaigns, respondents from all sectors wanted emphasis on responsible drinking by the general public. Other sectors, in particular, felt it was important to continuing emphasising the basics of host responsibility, and suggestions including to using positive role models and showing the bad things that could result from drinking. Maori felt that media campaigns should continue to directed to Maori, using Maori role models in an environment which Maori could relate to.

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