Alcohol ads: a dying breed

Those eye-catching alcohol advertisements prominently displayed on The City’s kiosks, newsstands and restrooms have come under attack by one supervisor who wants them banned.

Alcohol ads are increasingly losing favor in San Francisco. The booze ads are considered a lucrative revenue stream for cash-strapped agencies, but public outcry over them has prompted bans. BART, for example, reversed its no-alcohol ad policy in 2006 but quickly rescinded that decision following sharp criticism from residents and elected officials.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation that would further limit ads for alcoholic beverages by prohibiting them on city property. Alcohol ads are currently permitted on kiosks, pedestal news racks and bathrooms on city property.

“Research has consistently demonstrated that alcohol is the drug of choice among children and adolescents,” Mirkarimi said. “Underage drinking remains a public health problem. And if The City is unintentionally contributing to this problem by allowing alcohol advertising on our property we should then correct it.”

Last year, the Municipal Transportation Agency decided to no longer allow advertising on its transit shelters; alcohol ads are not allowed on its buses either. 

The legislation would impact the existing contract for advertising on the kiosks, pedestal news racks and bathrooms on city property. It provides an exemption for city property used for a restaurant, concert or sports venue where the consumption of alcoholic beverages is allowed.

The bill is expected to be heard by a Board of Supervisors’ committee in October.

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