More than a year after the board of Metropolitan Transportation Authority banned advertising of alcohol on New York City buses, subway cars and stations, the City of New York are following other cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco – banning alcohol advertisements on most city-owned property.
Mayor Bill de Blasio issued the booze advertising ban via Executive Order, effective immediately – affecting most city-owned properties such as bus shelters, newsstands, recycling bins and LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks. The order excludes venues that serve alcohol such as Citi Field.
“There’s no doubt that far too many New Yorkers struggle with serious substance misuse issues, among them excessive drinking,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
“We See Far Too Many Deaths Related to Alcohol”
The city health department says there were more than 110,000 alcohol-related visits to New York City emergency departments in 2016. Nearly 2,000 New Yorkers died that year from alcohol-related causes, including liver disease and driving fatalities.
“In New York City, we see far too many deaths related to alcohol,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said. “We know exposure to alcohol advertising can lead to drinking more alcohol more often, behavior that can be harmful and even fatal.”
According to a 2017 study, poorer neighborhoods in New York City where mostly blacks and Latinos live were already subject to a disproportionate number of alcohol ads in the subway. While those same neighborhoods had lower levels of educational achievement and a greater number of children, they are at higher risk to alcohol abuse and continuing implementing advertisements would only exacerbate the issue.
The Distilled Spirits Council called the ban “misguided and unsupported by the scientific research.” The group’s vice president, Jay Hibbard, added, “The research is clear – parents and other adults are the most influential factors in a youth’s decision whether or not to drink alcohol, not advertising. ”
Taking A Stand
However, in a 2016 study by the non-partisan research firm, Rand Corp., designed a study where 589 kids aged 11-14 used handheld computers to log the number of times a day they saw an ad for alcohol. While the team determined the kids in the study were exposed to an average of about three alcohol-related advertisements a day, they concluded that African-American and Hispanic kids were reported seeing twice as many ads as their white counterparts. While it could have been a coincidence, it may have also been largely in part due to marketing efforts targeting those demographics.
“It might not sound like a lot if you think of it day-by-day,” study co-author Rebecca Collins told CNBC. “But over the long term, that is about 1,000 ads a year. The fact is, alcohol advertising is a part of kids’ everyday life.”
Though, breaking down the statistics revealed some interesting patterns, as well as surprises for the researchers. For example, the largest percentage of alcohol ads the kids reported seeing came not from TV or the Internet, but outdoor billboards.
Despite a foreseeable loss of advertising revenue of around $3 million each year, city officials say it’s worth it to try and reduce the effects of problem drinking. In the 2018 fiscal year, alcohol advertising generated $2.7 million for the city. These advertisements occupy about 3% of city-owned advertising space.
“Too many people in our city struggle with excessive drinking, and irresponsible advertisements for alcohol make the problem worse―especially when they target communities of color,” said NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Today, New York City is taking a stand to protect the health and well-being of all of our communities.”