This Promotional Keychain Can Potentially Save a Life
It’s been a year, and there is still a lot to navigate. During these uncertain times, many have found bright spots in life’s simple pleasures—whether getting lost in a book or appreciating the outdoors. But, despite one’s best efforts, it’s important to remember that none of this is normal. COVID-19 has forced us to grieve lost routines, social connections, family structure and our sense of security.
Mental health is being tested, and some are finding false comfort in self-destructive coping mechanisms. Need proof? The numbers tell a story. According to a MarketWatch report, published in April 2020, U.S. online alcohol sales had already jumped 243% during the pandemic. Yes, caring is wearing a face mask. Caring is also telling your intoxicated friend when they’ve had too much to drink. There is more than one way to save a life right now—just ask Lawrence Martin, founder of BreathIQ, based in St. Petersburg, Fla. After witnessing a string of tragic events caused by alcohol misuse, Martin developed a breathalyzer keychain that can check for impairment within two minutes.
Initially available nationally through retail distribution, the BreathIQ breathalyzer is headed to the promotional products community. Martin maintains that all companies should be offering this “we care” item to their customers, and distributors are able to help. Read on as Martin explains how the breathalyzer works, discusses its military roots, and shares what he hopes distributors will take away for the sake of public health and safety.
Please provide some background on this product and your role with it. How did it come to be, when did it come to be and how has it evolved to its present-day form?
Lawrence Martin: I grew up here in Tampa Bay—popular amongst vacationers and the spring break crowd. [The area is] also known for beaches, sports (Go Bucks, Go Bolts, Go Rays), outdoors, night life and Margaritaville. Unfortunately, I have witnessed some bad things happen to some good people because of the misuse of alcohol. These memories made me overprotective when I became a father, and this caused me to create a way for someone to be able to protect another before it was too late.
Here is a fun fact that you may get a kick out of. The promotional products industry had a direct hand in helping me when it came to creating the product. Ironically, while visiting a distributor friend, I happened to look through one of his catalogs, and noticed some items being made by a U.S. supplier/manufacturer, which gave me the eureka moment for the keychain.
Early on, we realized that this breathalyzer cannot be used as a self-test tool because alcohol impairs judgment. Knowing this, we needed to create a new protocol to stop negative peer-to-peer pressure common in our society (i.e., from underage drinking, university binge drinking and drinking games to adult neg. peer pressure). Therefore, the breathalyzer must only be used by a sober person (acting as a lifeguard) to test another person for alcohol impairment. In summary, when our breathalyzer is used along with our positive peer-to-peer pressure protocol, this will save a life.
Our goal was to help as many people as possible, and the best way to do that was to make our keychain breathalyzer available to everyone nationally through retail distribution. Although the road to retail was difficult, we found great motivation in the positive stories we received from customers.
Some of our customer experiences [include]:
- A military member gave a keychain to his daughter. She used it to test her date, who tested positive for alcohol. She then called her dad and he picked them both up and drove them home safely.
- A coworker at a [holiday] party tested her colleague and kept her from getting behind the wheel.
- A group of friends went to dinner at the mall. They all drank and tested positive. They decided a smart thing to do was to wait, so they [chose] to see a movie. After the movie, they tested negative and then drove home.
- At a wine tasting event, a caring person went over to a clearly impaired stranger and used the keychain breathalyzer to convince that person it was smarter to get a rideshare instead of driving home and risking a life.
[But,] one day a phone call came in that would change everything for the company! It was from the director of safety for United States Army Europe (USAREUR). He was attending a joint safety conference in Washington D.C., regarding eliminating alcohol-related incidents in the Army. While there, he purchased our keychain at a local 7-Eleven. Surprisingly, he called me to discuss how we could, together, develop a program to help the military combat/stop Alcohol Related Incidence (ARI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
Through our joint collaboration, we created the only alcohol safety program to receive Award-Winning Best Practices, Federally Charted in reducing ARIs and DUIs by 75% - 100%, Congressionally/Senate supported (committee), Defense Appropriations, Championed by United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Granted a Best Practice U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, Granted a Best Practice by the U.S. Naval Safety Center, Sergeant Major of the Army Safety Award, and to receive the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award.
The military program tools included the breathalyzer tester, the imprintable keychain container with a service safety message, and a service safety informational wallet card. These are the same items we are now making available exclusively to the promotional products industry.
Due to our manufacturing limitations at that time, once we became a tool in the Department of Defense safety tool box, we made the decision to give our full support to our military service members (freedoms guardians), and we had to leave retail. Today, we are reintroducing this life-saving product to the public at a time [when] it is really needed due to COVID-19. The promotional products industry now has access to a proven “we care” item that can really help save lives, and this is something that every company should be offering to their customer.
How does one use this product and how effective is it?
LM: By carrying this keychain, you are now armed with a device that can save a person’s life, and you are now officially a LifeGuard. This means that when you witness a risky situation involving alcohol misuse you should use positive peer-to-peer pressure to remove that individual from the hazardous situation they are in before they are harmed, harm themselves, harm others or place themselves in a deadly situation.
- A sober friend [uses the item] to get another friend home safely before they put themselves in a socially risky situation.
- A student uses this to make sure that whoever is giving them a ride home is not impaired.
- A friend tests another friend showing them they are impaired, and they should not be driving.
Our product is an FDA-cleared medical device, easy to use, 99.9% accurate, Made in USA, durable and shock-resistant, water-resistant and temperature stable, California Proposition 65 safe, patented.
What are some key features about this product?
LM: The imprintable keychain contains one sealed poly bagged disposable breathalyzer (alcohol tester) with instruction sheet. The glow-in-the-dark container is re-usable and re-fillable. Additional testers are sold separately.
Other features include:
- It is the only FDA-cleared, patented product in the promotional industry that is part of an active military program.
- Intense glow-in-the-dark that lasts and lights up the imprinted message for 10-plus hours.
- Refillable container (companies can offer refills to get customers back in the door).
- Imprint area: 2x0.625”, imprintable on two sides.
- Small keychain size: 4.5x0.75”
- Breathalyzers are available in 0.02%, 0.04%, 0.05%, and 0.08% BAC
Are there any rules and regulations that distributors need to know?
LM: First, please understand that we cannot print any inappropriate message on the keychain. Please respect our life-saving device, its safety message and intended purpose. Second, this is not a self-test. Alcohol impairs judgment.
Which vertical markets should distributors be targeting when selling this product?
LM: [We suggest the following]:
- Great “We Care” item for companies and organizations to show they care for their customers and want to keep them safe. Be a caring and responsible business partner in the community.
- A great way to raise donations/fundraisers, benefactors (e.g., UF Bull Gators, for schools and universities, youth groups, faith-based organizations and charitable organizations).
- Perfect for everyone: insurance companies, professional services, trade services, hospitality and the recreational boating community.
- Any company or organization that wants to be branded with a positive message.
Why is now the right time to branch out from the veteran and service member community?
LM: Alcohol consumption has soared due to COVID-19. Sales of spirits have increased by 75% compared to last year, and online alcohol sales have jumped by 243%. It is common for people to use alcohol as a way to self-medicate as they try to cope with stress. In addition, as restrictions begin to ease, we can expect a spike in DUIs, fatalities and other alcohol-related incidents. People are going to go out and drink a lot more as they seek to have fun, socialize, enjoy their increased freedom and take the edge off. The COVID-19 pandemic has—and will further—increase alcohol misuse, and the negative impacts will be felt on our roads, in our communities and in our homes.
What message do you want distributors to take away from this?
LM: Of course, your customer’s recipient will certainly always remember who gifted them this branded keychain, not only because it’s being used by our military, but also because now they, too, can save a life. This item will absolutely not be thrown away.
Is there anything else you would like to add that we have not discussed?
LM: Our FDA-cleared breathalyzer is 99.9% accurate and superior to all other non-evidentiary (not admissible in court) breathalyzers, including electronic type devices. FDA-cleared electronic devices require routine calibration! An electronic device sensor needs to be recalibrated after every use due to sensor contamination from the breath.
Our breathalyzer is sanitary and hermetically sealed. It does not require power or batteries. It is water-resistant and temperature-resistant. Our device does not need to warm up to be used, and there is no sensor to clean or replace due to contamination or age. It’s also portable and comes in an easy-to-carry keychain housing. This makes it very durable and shock-resistant. USSOCOM tested the keychain by dropping it from a Blackhawk helicopter at 500 feet. I doubt an electronic tester will pass this test.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.