WASHINGTON, D.C. − New York City should protect public health and promote health equity by refusing to allow advertisements for alcohol from its public transportation system, said Public Citizen, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Center for Science in the Public Interest in a letter to New York City Council members today.
A letter was sent to each council member who has not yet signed on to co-sponsor Resolution 922-2015, which calls on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the governor and the state legislature to prohibit alcohol advertisements on subways, buses and other New York City Transit property.
According to research published earlier this month in the Journal of Urban Health, advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages, including alcohol, in Bronx subway stations are more likely to be found in Bronx neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty, lower educational attainment, higher percentages of black and Hispanic residents, and more children.
“Alcohol and junk food companies are using the New York City public transportation system to target people of color and low-income residents who often lack access to healthy food options or health resources,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program. “It is unethical for the MTA to hold children and youth as a captive audience for alcohol advertisers, considering that underage drinking is one of the leading causes of injury and death among young people.”
Hundreds of thousands of children and youth use the New York City subway to get to and from school every day.
“It’s unconscionable to think that children riding the bus or subway to and from school are subjected to ads that glorify and encourage drinking of alcoholic beverages,” said David Monahan, campaign manager of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Research shows these ads work on young people − all too well − and lead to underage drinking and a host of health and social consequences. We urge the New York City Council to join the long list of cities that protect kids from seeing alcohol ads on public transit.”
Michael Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, added, “With alcoholism such a problem in New York, the city should be fighting it at every turn and not abetting it.”