The ban was pushed by a group called Building Alcohol Ad-Free
Transit, whose partners include churches and community groups in
the New York metro area, according to its website. In a petition,
the group argued that "hundreds of thousands of NYC schoolchildren
use public transit every day as their 'yellow school bus.'"
Therefore, the group added, it is unacceptable that the MTA "would
expose young people to messages glorifying alcohol use and thereby
jeopardizing their health and safety." The group's website displays
photos of alcohol ads near posters for kid-friendly movies, such as
what appears to be a 2012 ad for Michelob Ultra next to an ad for
Students were 5.6 percent of the MTA's nearly 6 million subway
riders in May, according to the MTA's ordinance implementing the
ban. On 30 of the 253 local bus lines, students were at least 20
percent if riders.
Several big-city transit agencies already ban alcohol transit
ads, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Seattle, San
Diego, and Baltimore, the MTA said.
The Distilled Spirits Council, a trade group representing liquor
brands, cited other cities such as Chicago, Charlotte and
Washington D.C. that "have recently overturned bans on alcohol
advertising on public transit with each city experiencing
absolutely no negative effects." The Chicago Transit Authority
reversed its ban in 2012 but kept some restrictions in place.
Brands cannot advertise on buses, for instance, and alcohol ads
cannot "exceed 9.99% of the total advertising space on the transit
system at any one time."
Washington D.C.'s transit system
overturned its alcohol ad ban in late 2015, ending a
The MTA's ban is "misguided and unsupported by the scientific
research," Jay Hibbard, the Distilled Spirits Council's lobbyist in
the Northeast, said in a statement. "The research is
clear—parents and other adults are the most influential
factors in a youth's decision whether or not to drink alcohol, not
advertising. In fact, in New York underage drinking has declined by
more than 20 percent over the last 10 years and binge drinking is
at an all-time low."
Brewers and importers have for decades complied with a voluntary
marketing code stipulating that "all beer advertising and marketing
materials are intended only for adult consumers of legal drinking
age," said Jim McGreevy, president and CEO of the Beer Institute,
which represents major advertisers such as MillerCoors and
Anheuser-Busch InBev. "We are disappointed
that the MTA made this decision, especially since studies have
shown underage drinking is at record-low levels."
New York's transit ban comes as alcohol brands enjoy newfound
freedoms elsewhere. One of the biggest shifts came this year when
the NFL lifted its ban against liquor ads on TV. The alcohol
industry has also made gains on college campuses, where more sports
stadiums are allowing alcohol sales. Ohio State University began allowing
beer sales at its stadium in 2016 and drew more than $1 million in
sales that year, according to local media reports.
University of Texas lifted its ban in 2015 and in the first year
sold more than $1.8 million worth of alcohol, including 62,275
Miller Lites totaling $494,000, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Beer marketers are also striking aggressive marketing deals with
universities, including specially branded beers. Colorado State
University, for instance, this year struck a deal with New Belgium
for a new lager called Old Aggie, whose packaging includes an
image of the
school's ram mascot.
Corona earlier this year inked a sponsorship deal with the
University of Texas athletics program. It included a new slogan,
"Horns up, Limes In!"