The Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads from Public Property ( rallied outside Los Angeles City Hall this morning in support of Councilman Richard Alarcón’s introduction of a motion at today’s City Council meeting to ban alcohol ads on all City-owned property. The Councilman is also supporting approval of a new 10-year bus bench contract that includes a provision to prohibit alcohol ads on bus benches.

Alarcón’s motion requests that the Los Angeles City Attorney, with the assistance of the L.A. Public Works Commission, Department of Building and Safety, Planning Department and General Services Department “prepare an ordinance within 60 days to prohibit alcohol advertising on city owned and controlled property modeled after similar ordinances in San Francisco and Philadelphia.”

“Councilmember Alarcón’s motion to ban alcohol ads on all public property acknowledges Los Angeles’ commitment to protect public health and safety,” stated Jorge Castillo, advocacy and outreach manager for Alcohol Justice (formerly Marin Institute). “We look forward to campaigning with Mr. Alarcón to build the support to pass this ordinance as well as approve the bus bench contract that specifically prohibits alcohol ads on bus benches.”

The City Council postponed until Friday action on awarding Florida-based Martin Outdoor Media, LLC the exclusive right to build and/or maintain a minimum of 6,000 city-owned bus benches and sell advertising space on them. In the new contract, “labeled and/or branded alcohol” joins the list of items prohibited from advertising on bus benches along with tobacco, firearms, adult bookstores, adult theaters, adult escort services, and pornographic or obscene matters.

Individuals and groups throughout the city and state joined together as the Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads from Public Property to campaign for alcohol ad bans and found a responsible corporate partner when Martin Outdoor Media was quick to support the concept of prohibiting alcohol ads on bus benches in their new proposed contract with Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Department of Public Health recently recommended that “reducing alcohol advertising in public spaces and in areas commonly seen by minors” would help discourage underage drinking. The Los Angeles MTA does not allow any alcohol advertising on its buses, trains and other transit facilities.

More than 2.3 million underage youth drink alcohol each year in California. Underage drinking costs the state a staggering $7.3 billion annually. Youth violence, crime, car crashes, and high-risk sex are the most noticeable results.

The research-based data on the dangers of exposing youth as well as other vulnerable people to alcohol-ads is clear. The more alcohol ads they see, the greater the chance they will over-consume alcohol which leads to alcohol-related harm. L.A. is plagued by over $10.8 billion in alcohol-related harm every year.

A 2007 study by Alcohol Justice found that many cities in the U.S. already restrict alcohol ads from appearing on mass transit systems, and the city and county of San Francisco enacted an ordinance to prohibit alcohol ads from all public property in future contracts.

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