NYC Subway Bans Alcohol Ads

Minions would drive any parent to drink, TBFOn Wednesday, October 25th, the board of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) agreed to remove all alcohol advertising from subway cars, buses, and stations. This historic ban, affecting the largest public transportation system in the country, follows similar actions by San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle, and San Diego. The action was promoted by a grassroots coalition of community groups in the New York City area, working together as Building Alcohol Ad-Free Transit, and supported by councilmember Daniel Dromm of Jackson Heights, Queens.

Alcohol industry representatives condemned the move, telling Ad Age it was “misguided and unsupported by the scientific research.” Yet multiple studies show that alcohol ad exposure, especially among underage drinkers, directly contributes to acceptance of booze. Even Big Alcohol’s voluntarily adopted—if often not strictly obeyed—advertising policies forbid ads in close proximity to schools and other places youth gather. Yet anyone who has spent any time in New York City understands, everyone gathers on subway platforms. The train is universal, and almost every child who goes anywhere by themself will use it daily.

The effort follows on the heels of landmark anti-alcohol-ad legislation in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The Los Angeles efforts—which removed ads not just from transit but all publicly owned property—were spearheaded by the LA Drug and Alcohol Policy Alliance. Alcohol Justice led the Bay Area campaigns, which began with the removal of alcohol ads from BART, and expanded that to the San Francisco MTA and bus shelters.

Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice, knows firsthand both the difficulty and impact of passing these bans. “Congratulations to everyone in New York City who worked hard to put this into place,” he said. “Less alcohol in a kid’s day—even just a picture of alcohol—helps them lead a healthier and happier life.”

READ MORE Alcohol Justice's report on alcohol ads on public transit.

READ MORE about the LA Drug and Alcohol Policy Alliance.

2017 California Alcohol Legislation Wrapup

the final win-loss tallies for ca alcohol legislationAs the 2017 legislative session wraps up, prevention advocates celebrate a handful of key victories—most notably, the defeat of SB 384, Scott Weiner's reckless 4 a.m. last call bill. But alcohol legislation remains a pressing concern, both in terms of promoting public safety and preventing reckless giveaways to Big Alcohol.

The following bills were of particular import to Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance. "Win" means AJ/CAPA supported the bill and it passed, or opposed the bill and it failed. "Loss" means a supported bill failed, or an opposed one passed.

2017 final scores 
AJ: 6 wins, 13 losses
CAPA: 3 wins, 4 losses

In addition, the legislature sometimes reserves the right to revisit bills that stalled in committee in the following year. These two-year bills are listed at the end.


Assembly Bills

AB 63 vetoed

Extends the age range for provisional drivers' licenses from 16 to 21.

AJ and CAPA supported—provisional licenses as part of a Graduated Driver Licensing program are effective at reducing underage drunk driving.


AB 297 signed into law

Authorizes alcohol sales at a wine and cultural museum in Sonoma County.

AJ opposed—if a venue needs a special permit, by definition it is in an area that is overconcentrated with alcohol outlets. New licenses should be issued according to best practices, not on a haphazard, case-by-case basis.

AB 400 signed into law

Allows alcohol sales at pre-ticketed State Capitol events intended to raise awareness of the food and wine of the Sacramento region.

AJ opposed—this bill gives the appearance that the Legislature is favoring the alcohol industry over public health.


AB 471 signed into law

Allows the City of San Francisco to add 30 alcohol licenses (5 per year over 6 years), restricted to specific neighborhoods.

AJ opposed—San Francisco is already the most overconcentrated county in California. Rather than reassign existing licenses to spread outlets out across the city, this bill simply shoehorns in even more.


AB 479 dead

Increases the tax rate on distilled spirits and uses that revenue to eliminate taxes on women's health and hygiene products.

AJ supported—raising alcohol taxes is a time-honored means to reduce alcohol harm.


AB 522 signed into law

Allows nonprofits to receive special temporary licenses in order to hold raffles involving wine or beer.

AJ opposed—alcohol company in-kind donations to nonprofits are a growing and problematic trend, giving the industry free marketing and a positive veneer while costing them less than an outright cash donation.


AB 609 signed into law

Extends an exemption to certain activities allowing licensees to provide free distilled spirits or wine to consumers at invitation-only sales or distribution events.

AJ opposed—this perpetuates the permeation of alcohol into all parts of the waking day.


AB 711 signed into law

Allows beer manufacturers to provide free or discounted rides through taxis and ride-sharing services.

AJ and CAPA opposed—while free rides for people who would drive dangerously is a good thing, these promotions are delivered before the fact—rather than help address acutely intoxicated would-be drivers, they normal overconsumption and encourage recipients to go out and drink dangerously.


AB 997 signed into law

Allows patrons of wineries and/or breweries that are physically adjacent to bring alcohol from one onto the grounds of the other.

AJ opposes—alcohol sellers are supposed to be aware of how much they are serving their patrons. This bill vastly compounds the difficulty of that task.


AB 1046 dead

Classifies soju or shochu of 24% ABV or less as a wine.

AJ opposed—these are very high ABV, nearly tasteless "wines" that are most often used as a cocktail base. This bill lets any distilled spirit producers sell their product at qualifying wine-licensed outlets just by labeling it soju/shochu.


AB 1054 dead

Exempts the use of "palcohol" (powdered alcohol) for certain uses in "nonpowdered products".

AJ and CAPA opposed—this bill tears holes in last year's palcohol ban.


AB 1221 signed into law

Establishes a statewide Responsible Beverage Service training program for California, requiring that all on-sale retailers complete the training. Provides both an overview of state laws and regulations and of the physiological effects of alcohol.

AJ supported—individuals at points-of-sale can play a key role in reducing the harms from alcohol overconsumption. Moreover, these trainings help ensure staff follow existing laws.


AB 1722 signed into law

End prohibition on the issuance of a license, other than an on-sale beer license, for premises situated more than one mile outside the limits of an incorporated city and within 2 miles of any camp or establishment of men, numbering 25 or more, engaged upon or in connection with the construction, repair, or operation of any work, improvement, or utility of a public or quasi-public character.

AJ and CAPA opposed—this was an opaque bill that changed form several times. In the end, however, it increases the number of alcohol outlets, and that will always have a negative impact on public health.



Senate Bills 

SB 65 signed into law

Makes driving, boating, or flying while drinking an alcoholic beverage punishable as an infraction.

AJ and CAPA support—this is a common-sense intervention aimed at reducing drinking and driving (or drinking and boating, or drinking and flying).


SB 228 signed into law

Allows beer on the grounds of a public schoolhouse if it is part of an instructional program in brewing.

AJ opposed—public schoolhouses are primarily intended for the education of children. Allowing alcohol on premises promotes the product and normalizes its consumption. In addition, this bill makes no effort to include public health and safety or RBS training as part of a curriculum directly involving tasting and making alcoholic beverages.


SB 384 dead

Allows local jurisdictions to extend last-call times in bars and restaurants to 4 a.m.

AJ and CAPA opposed—our positions have been made clear elsewhere. Suffice to say that pushing back last-call times creates a more dangerous driving environment; stresses already overtaxed emergency and law enforcement systems; merges early-morning commuter traffic and late-night partier traffic; and creates a lasting environment of overconsumption in a state that has yet to establish a consistent, comprehensive late-night transit plan in any city.

WIN, but this bill will absolutely come back

SB 461 signed into law

Extends a loophole allowing distilled spirit shippers to own certain hotel and motel on-sale stores.

AJ opposed—this extends an existing violation of tied-house laws. Liquor manufacturers should not own on-sale establishments.


SB 582 signed into law

signed into law

Allows for the alcohol industry to purchase advertising space in the new Los Angeles Chargers football stadium, as well as the adjacent performance venue.

AJ and CAPA opposed—alcohol permeates the sports world, and sports advertising is a prime channel for delivering alcohol advertising to kids. Moreover, this bill would allow manufacturers to purchase space from or for on-sale locations, in clear violation of the three-tier system.


SB 611 signed into law

Improves on 2016's legislation requiring ignition interlock devices for individuals convicted of certain forms of driving under the influence.

AJ supported—these laws improve on ignition interlock devices, a smart idea for preventing DUI.


SB 664 signed into law

Allows alcohol manufacturers to purchase advertising on behalf of on-sale licensees at AT&T Park in San Francisco and the Chargers' stadium in Inglewood.

AJ opposed—as with SB 582, sports advertising gives the alcohol industry unfettered access to an underage audience. Moreover, it violates the three-tier system.



Two-Year Bills

These bills will be revisited by the legislature in 2018.

AB 330 

Authorizes the court to order a person convicted of driving under the influence to enroll and participate in, and successfully complete, a qualified “24/7 Sobriety” monitoring program during probation.


AB 629

Allows art galleries to give away wine or beer to patrons.

AJ and CAPA opposed—like last year's dry-bar bill, this would put alcohol in more places where it doesn't need to be. Gallery employees would be furnishing alcohol without any licensing, training, monitoring, or enforcement. The likelihood that this would lead to underage drinkers getting access to alcohol is close to 100%.

SB 254

Allows for companies to deliver alcohol and tobacco, if licensed by ABC.

AJ opposed unless amended—home delivery of alcohol and tobacco is dangerous and depressing, but it already occurs in California. This bill does not specify how delivery personnel will be trained, how age will be verified, limits on time of delivery. Enforcement would be very difficult, a major problem in California's current "easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" business culture.

SB 378

Enhances ABC's ability to investigates violations and take action—including suspending licenses—against alcohol sellers on conditions of imminent threats to health and safety.

AJ and CAPA supported—ABC neeeds greater authority in bringing action against problem retailers. However, the list of threats to health and safety should be extended to include illegal alcohol sales.


 NOTE: Although SB 384, the 4 A.M. bar bill, was gutted and amended and no longer has a bill number, its sponsor, Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) has threatened to revive it in the second year of this session. Though this proposal flies in the face of legislative tradition, we take his threat seriously and urge all allies to remain vigilant. Check for news, updates, and action alerts.

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READ MORE about alcohol legislation in California and the U.S.

California’s 4 A.M. Last Call Bill 86’d for Now

Public health & safety grassroots advocacy trumps nightlife industry’s push for greater profit.

CAPA and AJ advocates celebrate the deferral of the late last call billSAN FRANCISCO, CA (September 22, 2017) – California Alcohol Policy Alliance (CAPA), and Alcohol Justice are breathing a hard-fought sigh of relief as the 2017 California legislative session draws to a close because at least one bill was notably, and mercifully, absent—the 4 A.M. Bar Bill.

State Sen. Scott Wiener's SB 384 was a dangerous piece of legislation that would have striped away the standard protections of a normal 2 a.m. closing time. But by the time the bill hit the Assembly floor it had been completely gutted and recast as a bill seeking to reform the state sex offender registry. All reference to the hazardous, entertainment-industry-backed assault on public health and safety laws was gone. It appears that for at least a few more years, bars will close at their normal time.

Even for a bill that seemed destined to be the apple of Big Alcohol’s eye, SB 384 was shrouded in controversy. A resurrection of a failed bill from 2013, SB 384 drew the ire of local health, prevention, and recovery groups as well as MADD and law enforcement organizations that rallied at every opportunity to express strong opposition. They drew the attention and support of a steadily growing chorus of elected representatives, determined to call out the damage their constituents would suffer from an ostensible “local control” bill. Their voices were heard.

Then there were SB 384 supporters’ missteps. Sen. Wiener (D-San Francisco) first tried to compare the opportunity to party late to the struggle of African American communities, appropriating the slogan “Night Life Matters.” He then reinforced the tone deaf approach with red-herring arguments that a 4 a.m. last call could’ve prevented the Ghost Ship tragedy.

With the help of shoddy science and a flurry of amendments that were hidden from the public until well after the bill was voted on, Wiener ushered SB 384 through the State Senate and the Assembly GO Committee. However, it would go no further as the 4 A.M. Bar Bill.

“While Senator Wiener did a masterful job in the Senate at pulling the wool over his colleagues’ eyes, he ran into the truth in the Assembly Appropriations Committee,” said Jorge Castillo, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Drug and Alcohol Policy Alliance. “His denial of peer reviewed research on increasing alcohol-related harm and his constant crowing about the virtually worthless ‘local control’ process were finally challenged.”

The end came in two steps. First, the bill was held up in the Assembly Appropriations committee. The committee had real concerns over its projected costs—both in terms of government spending and lives lost—and dramatically reshaped it into a task force intended to study the long-term effects of state-sanctioned early-morning drinking.

“Smart minds prevailed … in the Assembly Appropriations Committee as SB 384 was gutted, and gutted well for very good reasons,” said Richard Zaldivar, Executive Director of The Wall Las Memorias Project and Chair of CAPA. “That bill was bad for California residents, their public health, and public safety. The people of California won.”

Next, possibly alarmed by what a new task force could find, or possibly deciding he had more urgent legislative priorities, Sen. Wiener then withdrew all alcohol-related language from the bill (he later told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There is nothing to study”); the gutted-and-amended SB 384, now addressing problems with the sex offender registry, passed both chambers.

Unfortunately, the end for the bill this year does not mean the end for the struggle to contain alcohol harm. Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, Wiener said he was, “…not giving up on this bill. We are going to bring the bill back next year and limit it only to cities… that want the ability to make the change.” According to Wiener those cities are San Francisco, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Oakland, and Sacramento.

“That’s just ridiculous,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. “California cities aren’t islands. Dangerous driving, assault, fatigue, and health problems will have no problems crossing city limits into every neighboring community.”

In those respects, then, Sen. Wiener is partially right: in this era of rampant deregulation, Alcohol Justice and the California Alcohol Policy Alliance do not need a new study to know they need to fight to keep common-sense public health protections in place, including a uniform, normal, statewide 2 a.m. last call.