NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Robert Weissman and Elizabeth Ben-Ishai (202) 588-7746
For Immediate Release: April 12th, 2012

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

The Los Angeles City Council should support a proposal to prohibit alcohol advertising on city-owned and -controlled property, Public Citizenís Commercial Alert project said in a letter sent today to the chair of the City Councilís Public Safety Committee, Mitchell Englander. 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.  Commercial Alert is a project of Public Citizen, a consumer protection organization based in Washington, D.C., with more than 250,000 members and supporters.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Councilmember Englander,

Commercial Alert is a project of Public Citizen, a consumer protection organization based in Washington, D.C., with more than 250,000 members and supporters. We aim to keep commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting higher values of family, community, environmental integrity, and democracy.

Councilmember Richard Alarcůn has introduced a motion (Council File 11-1429) directing the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance prohibiting alcohol advertising on city owned and controlled property. We write to strongly urge you to support this motion.
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. Alcohol is an example of such a product. The public is already inundated with alcohol advertising on television, radio, the Internet, and outdoor advertising. This advertising endlessly promotes the idea that alcohol consumption has only positive outcomes, disregarding the serious health and economic harms that result from alcohol abuse. By allowing alcohol advertising on public properties, the city is implicitly endorsing the image of alcohol consumption these advertisements promote.

Children suffer the most harm due to alcohol advertising. In general, children, including teenagers, are more vulnerable to advertising than adults. Advertisers are cognizant of this vulnerability, exploiting it to turn youth into lifelong customers. Research shows that children who see more alcohol advertising are more likely to engage in underage drinking, endangering public health and safety. For this reason, healthcare provider organizations including the American Association of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association, as well as the Surgeon General of the United States, have called for reductions or bans on alcohol advertising that reaches youth. Furthermore, 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.

According to L.A. County Department of Public Health, the county is currently plagued by over $10.8 billion in alcohol-related harm every year. Alcohol Justice reports that more than 2.3 million underage youth drink alcohol each year in California. Underage drinking costs the state $7.3 billion annually. When the social and human losses created by alcohol abuse are combined with these economic effects, the importance of this motion is clear.

Momentum already exists in the fight to protect the community from the effects of alcohol advertising. Currently the Los Angeles MTA does not allow alcohol advertising on its buses, trains and other transit facilities. Last summer, the city approved a 10-year contract that prohibits alcohol ads on more than 6000 bus benches. Building on these successes by passing a motion to completely ban alcohol advertisements on city-owned and controlled property would be a significant step forward. By supporting this motion, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the health and safety of Angelinos. Research on the potential effects of alcohol advertising bans shows that they can lead to a reduction in alcohol-related deaths as well as reduced underage consumption of alcohol.

We join with the Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads on Public Property in L.A. to increase existing momentum in the fight to protect the community from the effects of alcohol advertising. We strongly urge you to support a city wide prohibition of alcohol advertising on city property.

Sincerely,

Robert Weissman
President
Public Citizen

Elizabeth Ben-Ishai
Campaign Coordinator
Public Citizenís Commercial Alert