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Los Angeles City Council Should Prohibit Alcohol Advertising on City-Owned Property

April 12, 2012  

Los Angeles City Council Should Prohibit Alcohol Advertising on City-Owned Property

Letter Describes Advertising’s Harmful Effects on Developing Children, Costs Associated With Underage Drinking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Los Angeles City Council should support a proposal to prohibit alcohol advertising on city-owned and -controlled property, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert project said in a letter sent today to the chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

The measure (Council File 11-1492), introduced by Councilmember Richard Alcaron, would direct the city attorney to prepare an ordinance banning alcohol advertising on city property. Advertising alcoholic products exploits children and teenagers’ vulnerability to advertising, with the goal of making them lifelong customers, and contributes to underage drinking-related harms, Public Citizen said.

“While we believe public-owned spaces ought not to be used for commercial advertising of any kind, we are particularly concerned about the use of such spaces for the marketing of products that are harmful to community members, especially young people,” said Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert project. “The public already is inundated with alcohol advertising on television, radio, the Internet and outdoors. These ads depict alcohol consumption as having only positive outcomes and disregard the serious health and economic harms that result from alcohol abuse. By allowing alcohol advertising on public property, the city is implicitly endorsing the image of alcohol consumption these advertisements promote.”

According to L.A. County Department of Public Health, alcohol-related crashes, violent crimes and deaths cost the county more than $10.8 billion every year. Alcohol Justice, a national alcohol-industry watchdog group, reports that more than 2.3 million underage youth drink alcohol each year in California, costing the state $7.3 billion annually. When the social and human losses caused by alcohol abuse are combined with these economic effects, the importance of this motion is clear, Ben-Ishai said.

Additionally, healthcare provider organizations, including the American Association of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, as well as the U.S. Surgeon General, have called for reductions or bans on alcohol advertising that reaches youth. The L.A. County Department of Public Health recommends “reducing alcohol advertising in public spaces and in areas commonly seen by minors” as a way to help discourage underage drinking.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not allow alcohol advertising on its buses, trains and other transit facilities.And last summer, the city approved a 10-year contract that prohibits alcohol ads on more than 6,000 bus benches. Public Citizen joins the Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads on Public Property in L.A. to build momentum in the fight to protect the community from the effects of alcohol advertising.Building on these successes by banning alcohol advertisements on city-owned and -controlled property would be a significant step forward, Public Citizen said.

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org