Action Alert: Keep Alcohol Ads Off DC Metro

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Action Alert

Washington, DC Public Transit Considering Reversing Rule Banning Alcohol Advertising

Action:
Email your comments to BoardofDirectors@wmata.com to support the current ban on alcohol advertising on DC Metro trains and buses and in stations.  Comments are due TODAY, November 18, by 11:00am CST. The vote will take place tomorrow, November 19th.
 
Background:
The Board of Directors of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) banned alcohol advertising from public transit 21 years ago. It is considering rescinding the ban on alcohol advertising in order to create additional revenue, which will expose the metro population of nearly 6 million people plus millions of tourists to excessive alcohol advertising.
 
This rule change would be a step backwards for DC. In the U.S., 17 other major metropolitan areas have similar bans on alcohol advertising, with Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia enacting bans in just the last decade. Reversing the ban would be a harmful step for the district and its youth and the millions of tourists who visit DC and use the Metro to get around. 

Talking Points

  • Current research indicates that the more youth are exposed to alcohol advertising the more likely they are to consume alcohol and binge drink.
  • The cost of alcohol-related harm that the DC government bears far exceeds the revenue the transit authority will generate from alcohol advertising. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Washington DC has the highest cost of alcohol-related harm among U.S. metro areas at $1,526 per person, almost twice the national average.
  • 19 million tourists, including youth, depend on the Metro when traveling to D.C. Additionally, the WMATA provides free transportation to thousands of D.C. public and charter school students through their Kids Ride Free on Rail program. Selling alcohol advertising on the Metro system is effectively offering up youth as a captive audience to alcohol marketing.
  • From Alcohol Justice's 2013 report These Bus Ads Don't Stop for Children: Alcohol Advertising on Public Transit: "It makes no sense for public transit agencies or cities to allow alcohol advertising that recoups less than 1% of their operating revenues while governments in the U.S. bear the burden of over $90 billion in annual costs from alcohol-related harm. Less than 1% of total operating revenue is just not worth all of the added risk of youth exposure to ads and alcohol-related public costs."

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