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May 06, 2019
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s latest step against alcohol abuse early this week. The city issued a ban on alcohol advertisements applicable to various city-owned properties such as newsstands, recycling bins, bus shelters, and LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks.
This ban, which took effect immediately, came nearly a year after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) banned alcohol advertising on New York city buses, subway cars, and stations. Other cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles have already banned alcohol advertising on city properties.
While announcing the ban, de Blasio stated that far too many people in New York were struggling with substance abuse issues including alcohol abuse. This ban was announced taking into consideration the health risks posed to the young people and the vulnerable populations of the city. According to 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, nearly 14.5 million people aged 12 and above suffered from alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the U.S. Further, about 110,000 alcohol-related emergency hospitalizations and around 2,000 alcohol-related deaths were reported in 2016 in the city alone.
Alcohol advertising tempts young people to try alcohol
Health experts have often stated that exposure to alcohol advertising leads to the consumption of larger quantities of alcohol more frequently. Young people are more prone to get influenced by such advertisements putting them at a higher risk.
Alcohol advertising uses nearly 3 percent of the total advertising space in the city and a ban on this would mean a loss of approximately $2.7 million in revenues. The city officials, however, are not bothered about the small loss, justifying it with the prevention of alcohol temptation.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York city health commissioner, said that the city had seen way too many alcohol-related deaths. He added that it was a well-known fact that exposure to advertising led to overconsumption and abuse of alcohol, which in turn led to AUD. Alcohol addiction can be dangerous and lethal.
Poorer sections of New York population more vulnerable
The major chunk of alcohol advertising was exhibited in the subways, exposing African-Americans and Latinos to them. Mainly people from the communities of color constitute the poorer neighborhoods of the New York city. These areas have a lower level of education and a higher number of young population especially children. According to a study, these areas are subjected to a higher number of alcohol-related advertisements.
Dr. Hillary Kunins, the acting executive deputy health commissioner, called this a matter of health equity. She said that according to various scientific studies conducted in the city, Latino and African-American youths were more exposed to risks of alcohol abuse and addiction.
The ban will however not affect various city-based properties such as restaurants where sale and consumption of alcohol is authorized. Also, some of the alcohol-related ads would continue for some time on city properties. This is due to long term contracts and because the ads cannot be removed until they expire. Dr. Kunins said that people might not see the change overnight, but as the contracts expire, alcohol advertisements will be replaced by other advertisements.
Criticism of ban
The ban was however criticized by some, including officials from the Distilled Spirits Council, a Washington D.C. based collegium representing the distilled spirit industry.
Jay Hibbard, vice president for government relations for the spirits council, described alcohol advertisements as a medium to foster an interaction between the people and the brands. He said that alcohol advertisement simply allowed people to try different brands that they found attractive. He further added that parents were the major influences on people under 21 years having alcohol-related problems. Moreover, a study from the University of Texas had found that alcohol advertising had a miniscule role to play in alcohol abuse and brand choice.
Nonetheless, Dr. Kunins disagreed. She said that the ban was announced after several scientific studies had proved that alcohol advertising did influence consumption, especially amongst the youth.
Seeking treatment for AUD
Ban on alcohol advertisements in various places, including city-owned property now and social media platforms earlier, will definitely work towards reducing the exposure to alcohol amongst both the youth and the adults. Consumption of alcohol impacts professional goals, personal choices, and relationships. Prolonged abuse worsens the damage introducing complications and addiction.
If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to alcohol and is looking for a licensed rehab center for alcohol abuse treatment, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. We offer comprehensive and effective alcohol addiction treatment programs personalized according to each patient to achieve long-lasting recovery. For more information about how we can help you combat your addiction, call our 24/7 alcohol addiction treatment helpline 866-548-0190 and speak with a member of our admissions team. You can also chat online with a representative for a free insurance verification.