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Youth Still Harassed by Alcohol Ads On America’s Public Transit

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michael Scippa 415-548-0492

Jorge Castillo 213-840-3336


Youth Still Harassed by Alcohol Ads On America’s Public Transit

New Alcohol Justice Study Shows Slow Progress on Alcohol Advertising Bans on Buses, Trains & Public Property

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 25, 2013) – America’s kids are still being lured to drink by seductive alcohol ads in larger metropolitan areas on public transit. This was a finding in a new survey released today by Alcohol Justice at a press conference in Los Angeles and available at The report looks at the alcohol advertising policies and contracts of 32 metropolitan transit agencies and cities, including L.A. and Boston where advocates are making progress in fighting alcohol ads. Actor Kurtwood Smith hosted the press conference on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall where Councilmember Paul Koretz is championing a proposed ordinance banning alcohol ads on city property.

The scientific research linking exposure to alcohol advertising with influencing underage drinking and leading to alcohol-related problems is well-documented,” stated Sarah Mart, report co-author and Research Director at Alcohol Justice. “To reduce the harm, we recommend alcohol ads on public property should be banned – including buses, trains and street furniture.”

The report, “These Bus Ads Don’t Stop For Children: Alcohol Advertising on Public Transit,” found that 18 of 32 agencies clearly prohibit alcohol ads, while 9 of the 14 remaining agencies have partial limits on alcohol ads. Some of the biggest cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and New York still allow alcohol ads. Apparently outcry from parents and child advocates is not being heard over the buzz of advertising firms and alcohol corporations promising ad revenue.

The report finds that the economic justifications at the transit agencies do not stand up to scrutiny, as only .03% to .10 percent of operating revenue is from alcohol ads and only 3% to 10% of ad revenue is from alcohol ads.

Alcohol ad revenue is less than ten percent of total advertising and one tenth of one percent of total operating revenue for these agencies,” stated Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO at Alcohol Justice. “To save less than a penny from each rider’s fare the transit agencies are exposing millions of underage youth to alcohol ads and contributing to emergency room and addiction costs for youth.”

The press conference brought together the Los Angeles-based coalition and Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz (5th District), who has taken over for former council member Richard Alarcon in guiding an ordinance through city hall that would extend an existing bus bench alcohol ad ban to other LA Metropolitan Transportation Agency property like bus shelters and street furniture.

Kurtwood Smith, of “RoboCop”, “That 70’s Show”, and a new ABC television series in production called “Resurrection,” stated “America should not tolerate kids being barraged with advertisements luring them towards a lifetime of drinking."

According to the new report, advertising on transit vehicles and transit stations comprised 17% of the out- of-home market in the U.S. in 2012. Street furniture such as bus benches and bus shelters is also considered transit advertising. Whether this type of alcohol advertising will continue to grow, or be eliminated is an ongoing public policy debate.

"Alcohol advertising has a destructive effect on community health and youth,” stated Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. “Governments must act by passing measures to keep alcohol advertising out of public transit systems."

U.S. trade associations like DISCUS, Beer Institute and Wine Institute, along with the major producer corporations like, Diageo, Anheuser-Busch InBev and CBS Outdoor, push all levels of government for profits at public expense with self-regulatory guidelines, fighting new restrictions and loosening existing bans on alcohol advertising.

"Local government should stop being a quiet collaborator with the liquor industry that consistently promotes alcohol consumption in our city,” stated Ruben Rodriguez, Chair of the Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads on Public Property in L.A. “The city council has the legal power to ban alcohol ads on city owned property to protect impressionable youth from being encouraged to drink their toxic products."

Young people may take those first drinks for a number of reasons, including peer pressure but also including being exposed to advertising hyping the supposed allure of liquor,” stated Councilmember Koretz. “That’s why it’s so important that we not be a part of the problem, and so I am very pleased to be supporting the proposed city ordinance that will ban alcohol ads on city-owned and controlled property, including the bus shelters used daily by youth in our city. I call on all my fellow councilmembers to support this key motion and to ban this form of alcohol advertising,” he added. “Banning these ads will help limit underage consumption of alcohol and the problems associated with alcohol use.

Los Angeles as well as Boston exemplify city alcohol advertising policies that are in direct contrast with their Transit Agency bans on alcohol advertising leading to jurisdictional conflicts and legal challenges.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) decision to support the health of Boston youth by banning alcohol advertising on trains, buses and station, was a huge victory for the thousands of young people who ride the T to school,” said Elizabeth Parsons, Co-Chair, SAFE-MA. “As our SAFE-MA youth members have said, Boston youth shouldn’t be exposed to alcohol advertising, especially when their peers in the suburbs don’t see alcohol ads on their yellow school buses.

MA state law however, allows alcohol ads on city and state property, which includes bus benches, bus shelters and other street furniture. “Moving forward, SAFE-MA will continue to educate local legislators and communities about the proposed state law to ban alcohol ads on all state property and urge legislators to make the health of MA youth the highest priority,” Parsons added.

The report concludes that the strongest approach to achieving the goal of banning alcohol ads lies with changing government policy through new ordinances and laws. While the cost of alcohol harm greatly exceeds tobacco cost, there is already a national policy, “The Master Settlement Agreement,” mandating that tobacco companies not conduct any outdoor advertising, including on public transportation. Alcohol Justice is working to create a similar policy for alcohol advertising in the U.S.

If my son has to sit at a bus shelter with alcohol ads on his way to school every day, I hope the city won’t mind paying his rehab bills in years to come,” stated Leonard Buschel, Founder, Writers In Treatment. “Students who see booze ads every day drink more alcohol in high school than kids who do not.

To read the complete report, “These Bus Ads Don’t Stop For Children: Alcohol Advertising on Public Transit,” please visit