A coalition of clergy and community activists joined with a city councilman to demand that the transit system be free from alcohol brand promotions.
The role of NYC public transit in under-age alcohol use
Evidence shows that alcohol marketing encourages children to take up alcohol use earlier and if they already do, to consume more alcohol. Underage alcohol use is harmful. Studies have shown that alcohol advertising establishes brand loyalty among youth and actively encourages youth to consume alcohol. Advertising targeting youth make alcohol consumption seem glamorous and fun by glossing over all of its harmful effects.
New York’s transit system is a major platform for the alcohol industry to target youth. The fact is that thousands of NYC students rely on public transportation to go to and from school every day. The MTA hands out 600,000 MetroCards to students annually.
Public health and social justice issue
The coalition also cites studies that show black and Hispanic communities are disproportionately exposed to messages from the alcohol industry. That also means exposure greater risks for communities that are already vulnerable. Youth of color are disproportionately exposed to alcohol advertising – making this an issue of public health and social justice.
The MTA says alcohol ads added $7.5 million to its bottom line in 2014. The revenue, the agency says, is poured back into service.
BAAFT wants NYC to lead
The advocates say NYC is uncharacteristically behind on this issue. A number of major cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, and Philadelphia, have already banned alcohol advertising on their public transit systems. NYC has always been a leader in urban public health, and it is time for the MTA to step up to remove these harmful ads from the public transit system.
The MTA should be taking a cue from other cities whose transit systems have banned alcohol ads.
More about BAAFT
Read about evidence here.
See the gallery of marketing cases here.