New York has joined dozens of other cities that don’t allow alcohol ads on public transport.

Mike Pomranz
October 26, 2017

As many late night revelers have learned the hard way, despite being the “city that never sleeps,” drinking on the subway and buses is still illegal in New York City. (Save that nonsense for the Long Island Railroad!) But starting in 2018, even alcohol advertisements are getting the boot from public transit. Yesterday, the board for NYC’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority unanimously approved a ban on alcoholic beverage advertisements on city buses, subway cars and station.

According to the New York Times, pressure has mounted for years from groups concerned that advertising alcohol to the MTA’s 1.6 million daily riders promotes underage drinking and targets lower income groups. The paper also points out that banning certain types of advertising is not unprecedented: Tobacco ads have been banned since 1992, and in 2015, the board voted to get rid of political ads. The MTA stresses that, in the bigger picture, revenue from boozy ads were miniscule – just $2.3 million per year for an organization that earns about $159 million in ad revenue annually and brings in a massive $15.5 billion in revenue each year overall.

Though existing ads will be allowed to continue to run until their contracts expire at the end of the year, new alcohol-based ads will no longer be accepted effective immediately. With this decision, New York City joins about 30 other US cities which have similar bans on public transport, according to The Drinks Business.

Still, the ban is not without its critics, namely, the alcohol industry which feels like it’s being unfairly targeted. “Science and research show that there is no benefit to banning this type of advertising,” Jay Hibbard, vice president of government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council, told the Times. “This is not advertising on school buses… This is advertising on a public transportation system.” And in his defense, as anyone who’s ridden the NYC subway can attest too, if a beer ad is the worst thing you see during your trip, you’ve had a damn good trip.

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