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Responsible beverage server training (RBS/RBST)

Health Factors: Alcohol & Drug Use
Decision Makers: Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Federal Government Public Health Professionals & Advocates
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Responsible beverage server training (RBST) includes efforts to educate owners, managers, servers, and sellers at alcohol establishments about strategies to avoid illegally selling alcohol to underage youth or intoxicated patrons (UMN-AEP). RBST practices include offering customers food with drinks, delaying service to rapid drinkers, refusing service to intoxicated or underage consumers, and discouraging intoxicated customers from driving (CG-Alcohol). RBST is also sometimes called RBS or server training.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced excessive drinking
Improved alcohol server practices
Reduced violence

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that responsible beverage server training (RBST) reduces harmful alcohol consumption (Jones 2011a, CG-Alcohol), especially when implemented as part of a multi-component intervention (Trolldal 2012, Brennan 2011). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects (CG-Alcohol, Trolldal 2012, Brennan 2011).

RBST appears to improve server policies and practices and reduce the portion of patrons leaving drinking establishments intoxicated (CG-Alcohol, Jones 2011a). This approach can reduce alcohol sales to minors (Chinman 2014) and may also decrease alcohol-related violence (Brennan 2011, Trolldal 2012).

Multi-component RBST that combines server training, community coalition efforts, and enhanced enforcement reduces excessive consumption more the server training alone (Trolldal 2012, Brennan 2011). Clear role definition, evaluation, and feedback can also help facilitate effective RBST implementation (Haggard 2014, Trolldal 2013).


United States

RBST is in place in many states. As of January 2014, RBST was mandatory in 18 states  and Washington, DC and voluntary in many others (APIS).


In Wisconsin, all licensed beverage servers must undergo RBS training (APIS).

Implementation Resources

DFAA-RBST 1 - Drug-Free Action Alliance (DFAA). Responsible beverage service toolkit part I: Strategies for coalitions. Columbus: Drug-Free Action Alliance (DFAA); 2009. Accessed on December 14, 2015
DFAA-RBST 2 - Drug-Free Action Alliance (DFAA). Responsible beverage service toolkit part II: Steps to establishing a responsible beverage service policy initiative. Columbus: Drug-Free Action Alliance (DFAA); 2009. Accessed on December 8, 2015
PIRE-RBST - Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Best practices in responsible alcoholic beverage sales and service training: With model ordinance, commentary and resources. Ventura: Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH); 2008. Accessed on March 1, 2016

Citations - Description

CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption. Accessed on May 16, 2017
UMN-AEP - University of Minnesota Alcohol Epidemiology Program (UMN-AEP). Alcohol control policy descriptions. Accessed on April 17, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Brennan 2011* - Brennan I, Moore SC, Byrne E, Murphy S. Interventions for disorder and severe intoxication in and around licensed premises, 1989-2009. Addiction. 2011;106(4):706-13. Accessed on November 27, 2015
CG-Alcohol - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Excessive alcohol consumption. Accessed on May 16, 2017
Chinman 2014* - Chinman M, Ebener P, Burkhart Q, et al. Evaluating the impact of getting to outcomes-underage drinking on prevention capacity and alcohol merchant attitudes and selling behaviors. Preventive Science. 2014;15(4):485-496. Accessed on March 7, 2016
Haggard 2014* - Haggard U, Trolldal B, Kvillemo P, Guldbrandsson K. Implementation of a multicomponent responsible beverage service programme in Sweden: A qualitative study of promoting and hindering factors. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2014;31. Accessed on March 7, 2016
Jones 2011a* - Jones L, Hughes K, Atkinson AM, Bellis MA. Reducing harm in drinking environments: A systematic review of effective approaches. Health & Place. 2011;17(2):508-18. Accessed on April 6, 2017
Trolldal 2012 - Trolldal B, Brännström L, Paschall MJ, Leifman H. Effects of a multi-component responsible beverage service programme on violent assaults in Sweden. Addiction. 2012;108(1):89-96. Accessed on May 24, 2016
Trolldal 2013* - Trolldal B, Haggard U, Guldbrandsson K. Factors associated with implementation of a multicomponent responsible beverage service program: Results from two surveys in 290 Swedish municipalities. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. 2013;8:11. Accessed on March 7, 2016

Citations - Implementation

APIS - Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS). Welcome to the Alcohol Policy Information System. Accessed on June 27, 2017

Page Last Updated

August 18, 2015

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