San Francisco Leads the Nation in Protecting Youth from the Influence of Alcohol Advertising

Cities across the country derive considerable revenue from licensing public property to alcohol advertisers. This revenue, however, pales in comparison to the cost of providing services to combat public health issues relating to alcohol abuse. Recent studies have shown that the more children are exposed to alcohol advertising, the greater the risk that they will engage in underage drinking. Studies also prove that the earlier one starts drinking, the more likely they are to abuse alcohol later in life.

While many cities continue to rely on revenue from ad contracts with alcohol conglomerates, San Francisco has been a leader in limiting alcohol advertising in public areas. here’s a look at the history of alcohol ad limitations on city property.

History of alcohol ad restrictions on city-owned property in San Francisco

January 1991

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission vote unanimously to ban alcohol and tobacco advertising on city buses, streetcars and cable cars.

October 2006

Seeking to increase ad revenue in the face of a budget deficit, BART directors vote to end the ban on alcohol ads across the Muni system.

December 2006

The plan to allow up to 17% of muni ads to promote beer, alcohol & spirits is reversed. “It probably wasn’t one of our better ideas” Board Vice President Lynette Sweet says of the previous vote to begin allowing the alcohol ads

January 2007

Marin Institute (now known as alcohol justice) issues a report on alcohol ads located in close proximity to local schools. This leads to city officials taking action to immediately strip all Muni bus shelters within 500 feet of schools of alcohol advertisements.

January 2009

New contracts for ads on city-owned property are no longer allowed to promote alcohol products. As a result, “all leases, permits, or agreements entered into, renewed, or materially amended after January 16, 2009 must specify that advertising of tobacco products or alcoholic beverages is prohibited.”

The ban only affects new contracts, so several existing contracts for alcohol advertising in public places will remain in effect for years to come. Even so, this ban makes San Francisco a national leader in protecting youth from the influences of alcohol advertising.

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