M.T.A. Will Ban Alcohol Advertising on Buses and Subways


In 2015, the board voted to ban political advertising on subways and buses to avoid legal challenges it had faced in rejecting some ads with political messages. Tobacco advertising has been banned in the transit system since 1992.

The estimated $2 million in revenue derived each year from alcohol advertising is a minuscule figure compared with the authority’s budget, said Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the authority. The authority expects to receive about $15.5 billion in revenue in 2017.

The authority, he said, was not concerned about making up for lost revenue, especially as the system begins to modernize.

“When advertisers understand that we have approximately 1.6 million people every single day through the system — it’s a fabulous place to advertise,” Mr. Lhota said.

Effective immediately, the agency will no longer accept new alcohol-related ads; existing contracts for such ads will be honored until the contracts expire at the end of the year.

The decision disappointed alcohol trade associations, which have confronted a growing number of alcohol advertising bans in cities across the country.

“Science and research show that there is no benefit to banning this type of advertising,” said Jay Hibbard, vice president of government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council.

Mr. Hibbard said the majority of the American population, about 71.6 percent, was above the legal drinking age. Parents, not advertisements, are the greatest influence on preventing underage drinking, he said.

“This is not advertising on school buses,” Mr. Hibbard said. “This is advertising on a public transportation system.”

The board is still discussing how the measure will affect the partnerships it has with Connecticut on Metro-North Railroad trains, and with New Jersey on New Jersey Transit.

Underage drinking leads to over 7,000 emergency-room visits in New York City hospitals a year, said Councilman Daniel Dromm, a Democrat representing Jackson Heights, Queens.

“I’m 26 years clean and sober, and it’s a personal issue for me,” said Mr. Dromm, who introduced a resolution in the Council urging the authority to ban alcohol ads. “I know the detrimental effect this type of advertising has on young people.”

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