Brooklyn Boro

Alcohol ads banned on New York City property

Study: Williamsburg, Bushwick had the most alcohol-related emergency room visits in Brooklyn

May 1, 2019 Scott Enman
The order, which takes effect immediately, bans any alcohol-related ads on bus shelters, newsstands, phone booths, LinkNYC kiosks and recycling containers. Image via Pexels
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Advertisements for beer, wine and liquor will no longer be permitted on city property as a result of an executive order signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday, and two North Brooklyn neighborhoods may stand to benefit the most from the new policy.

Williamsburg and Bushwick had the most emergency department visits for alcohol-related injuries in Brooklyn, according to a New York State Department of Health study from October 2014 to September 2015 that the mayor’s office cited in its announcement of the ban. It was the only part of the borough where there were 301 to 400 emergency visits per 100,000 residents.

“There’s no doubt that far too many New Yorkers struggle with serious substance misuse issues, among them excessive drinking,” de Blasio said. “This order banning alcohol ads from city property reaffirms our commitment to health equity and our stand to protect the well-being of all New Yorkers.”

The order, which takes effect immediately, bans any alcohol-related ads on bus shelters, newsstands, phone booths, LinkNYC kiosks and recycling containers.

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Any ads currently on display will be permitted to finish their contract, but the companies will not be allowed to renew the agreement. Venues where alcohol is served like sports stadiums, restaurants and concert halls are exempt from the ban.

The impetus for the ban comes from a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, which revealed that high exposure to alcohol ads can lead to an increased likelihood and quantity of alcohol consumption.

The report focused exclusively on the Bronx and showed that beverage ads outnumbered food ads overall, and the vast majority were for alcohol. A total of 70.6 percent of print ads in the Bronx subway system were for alcohol.

The executive order comes weeks after the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched a media campaign promoting safer drinking habits, and it’s already being praised by doctors as a way of decreasing youth drinking.

“Alcohol is just as dangerous as many prescription drugs,” Dr. Alan Kadish, president of the Touro College & University System, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “While a ban is unreasonable, restricting advertisements makes sense to decrease youth alcoholism.”

In 2016, there were more than 110,000 alcohol-related emergencies in the city, with 2,000 New Yorkers dying from alcohol-related diseases the same year.

In 2017, nearly one in five New Yorkers reported binge drinking on at least one occasion in a month span.

“In New York City, we see far too many deaths related to alcohol,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said. “We know exposure to alcohol advertising can lead to drinking more alcohol, more often – behavior that can be harmful and even fatal. Today’s ban of alcohol ads on city property will help protect communities from the burden of harmful alcohol advertising.”

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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