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BART directors reverse course, ban alcohol ads

By Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News Service

December 7, 2006

OAKLAND (BCN) - Bay Area Rapid Transit District directors voted 7-2 today not to allow alcohol advertisements on their system, reversing their decision of less than three months ago to allow such ads for a one-year trial basis.

Board members had voted 6-3 on Sept. 14 to allow alcohol ads for the first time in the transit agency's history and to re-evaluate the new policy after a year.

Board Vice President Lynette Sweet said a major reason she voted in favor of alcohol ads at that time was that "it came shortly after we heard that BART will have a budget deficit for 30 years'' and the ads were one way BART could increase its revenues.

The alcohol ads were expected to bring in $400,000 annually.

But the board decided to reconsider its position after hearing protests from the boards of supervisors in San Francisco and Contra Costa counties and community groups such as the Marin Institute.

Opponents of alcohol ads say vulnerable groups, such as youths and recovering alcoholics, would be exposed to more alcohol ads if BART allowed them.\

Of the six directors who voted to allow alcohol ads in September, four changed their positions today in the wake of community pressure.

Only Zoyd Luce and Tom Radulovich maintained their positions in favor of allowing such ads.

Luce said banning alcohol ads "is the same as prohibition'' and is "a silly way to have a crusade.''

Luce said youth advocates who fear that alcohol ads in the BART system would encourage more teenagers to drink should be more concerned about there being "4,000 truant students every day in Oakland.''

But Joan Kiley of Environmental Prevention in Communities said the ads should be banned because "alcohol contributes to violence, dating violence and a lack of academic achievement.''

She told the board, "Keep BART alcohol-free.''

Kiley said a recent study found that half of Oakland's teens had their first drink by age 13 and one in four youths have had a drink in the last month.

Harold Parsley of the Contra Costa County Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board said alcohol ads should be banned because "alcohol is an important factor in the three leading causes of death for youths: traffic accidents, homicides and suicides.''

Laurie Lieber of the Marin Institute said alcohol ads are so effective in reaching youths that a study of children between the ages of 9 and 11 found they were more familiar with the frog used in Budweiser beer ads that with other advertising icons such as Tony the Tiger and Smokey the Bear.

BART actually never placed any alcohol ads in its system because it hadn't yet approved a contract with companies that would have put up such ads.

In their vote in September, BART directors placed three major restrictions on alcohol ads: they would represent no more than 17 percent of the transit agency's total ad space, there would be no alcohol advertising in tunnels and all such ads would have to contain the language, "Drink responsibly; don't drink and drive.''

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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