Researcher slams opponent of BART alcohol ads
A proposed resolution urging directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit
district to rescind a recent decision to allow alcohol-themed
ads on subway cars and at stations, sponsored by San Francisco
Supervisor Tom Ammiano, has received criticism from Sociologist
David Hanson. Hanson claims studies have not shown a causal link
between alcohol advertising and alcohol consumption.
By Emmett Berg, Bay City News Service
October 23, 2006
A veteran researcher slammed a resolution against alcohol advertising
pending before San Francisco supervisors Tuesday as unscientific
and akin to "giving up $400,000 for a pebble on a beach."
Sociologist David Hanson, contributor to more than 280 articles
on alcohol abuse, was reacting to Supervisor Tom Ammiano's proposal
to urge directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit district to rescind
a recent decision to allow alcohol-themed ads on subway cars and
The policy is expected to garner $400,000 in revenue for the
transit district every year, according to a report.
Ammiano's resolution states in part that "exposure to alcohol
advertising is positively associated with higher rates of drinking
among some vulnerable populations."
Yet Hanson, professor emeritus at the State University of New
York at Potsdam, said there was "no scientific evidence for
that part whatsoever" of the supervisor's statement.
"There have been dozens of studies looking at the effects
of advertising on alcohol consumption," Hanson said. "And
it has never been demonstrated to have a causal link."
Hanson said to give up revenue from alcohol advertising would
"There's $400,000 at stake here," he said. "It
would be irresponsible for BART to pass up that money when there's
no strong evidence that there would be a payoff."
Hanson said, "It's like giving up $400,000 for a pebble
on the beach. Even if the ads did have an impact, not putting
them on BART wouldn't make any difference. Alcohol ads are ubiquitous"
Hanson, who said he accepts no funding from the alcoholic beverage
industry, has long been critical of what he calls "one-sided"
and "counter-productive" messages by advocates against
alcohol use, to the detriment of educating the public on moderate
In a recent article co-written with Ruth Engs, Hanson argued,
"Millions of dollars are spent on health care, treatment
and criminal prosecution as the result of alcohol abuse.
And drinking too much increases the risks of many illnesses.
However, the association of moderate drinking with greater health
and longevity is never mentioned at all in federally sponsored
alcohol educational programs."
The supervisor was not immediately available for comment. Even
if Ammiano's measure passes the board, the city has little more
than a megaphone to use in influencing the actions of BART, a
regional body led by officials appointed mostly from jurisdictions
outside of San Francisco.
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.