Council votes to ban alcoholic beverage ads on most city property

Alcoholic beverage ads banned from most city property, a move aimed at curbing abuse and underage drinking.

Los Angeles lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban alcoholic beverage advertising on city property, a move aimed at curbing alcohol abuse and underage drinking. 

"These problems tear apart lives and families and communities, and they also cost us plenty in the pocketbook," said City Councilman Paul Koretz at a council meeting on Tuesday.

Each year 2,500 people die in Los Angeles County from alcohol-related causes, and approximately $10.8 billion -- or $1,000 per resident -- is spent annually on alcohol in the county, according to a 2011 report from the L.A. County Department of Public Health. 

On Tuesday, the council unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting alcohol advertising on city-owned and city-managed property, including buses. 

Margot Bennett, executive director of Women Against Gun Violence, spoke in support of the measure, saying there is "a definite and significant link" between alcoholism and gun violence.

"We see this as another step where you can really help us keep our children and community safe," she said. 

The 2011 health report found that 16.2% of adults in the county are binge drinkers, and 1 in 5 high school students reported at least one episode of binge drinking the previous month. The report concluded that reducing alcohol advertising, which can influence minors, would be a way to cut down on underage drinking.

The idea for the city's ban was originally proposed in 2011 by former L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcon, who wanted to model the city's ordinance after similar ones in San Francisco and Philadelphia.

"This is a long time coming," said Councilman Jose Huizar, who seconded Alarcon's motion back then, at Tuesday's meeting. 

The ordinance, which still requires the signature of Mayor Eric Garcetti, would apply only to advertising contracts signed or renewed after it takes effect, and does not apply to city property used for the operation of a restaurant, concert, sports or entertainment venue, or anywhere where the sale or consumption of alcohol is permitted, such as Los Angeles International Airport

Already, the city's Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority don't allow alcohol advertising. This new ban would affect advertising contracts managed by the city's Bureau of Street Services for bus benches and street furniture. 

The city would lose between $400,000 and $600,000 in annual revenue by not renewing contracts that include alcohol advertising, according to a city report. However, the city could find contracts to replace those by the time they expire in several years.

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