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Distilled Spirits Council urges NYC mayor to lift alcohol advertising ban

US trade body the Distilled Spirits Council has sent an open letter to the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, calling for him to reconsider imposing the ban on alcohol advertising on city property.

President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, Chris R. Swonger

New York mayor Bill de Blasio announced the executive order at the beginning of this month, meaning a ban on alcohol advertising on New York City property will take immediate effect. It will mean that alcohol advertising will be prevented from appearing on structures such as bus shelters, newsstands, phone booths Wi-Fi LinkNYC kiosks and recycling kiosks.

In a statement, de Blasio said that the decision was motivated by high instances of alcohol abuse with the city.

President and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council, Chris R. Swonger, sent an open letter to de Blasio last week. In it he claimed that the ban would “simply divert attention from solutions that work to combat alcohol abuse and underaged drinking”, noting that the industry was committed to responsible advertising.

The letter read: “We urge you to lift the ban on alcohol advertisements based on decades of scientific research that shows that alcohol advertising does not cause someone to begin drinking or to abuse alcohol.

“This is also supported by real world evidence in New York, where underage drinking has declined by more than 35 percent over the last 10 years and binge drinking is at an all-time low. Alcohol use disorders among New York adults are also at historic lows, according to federal data.”

Swonger cited evidence from a study conducted by the University of Texas which analysed the relationship between alcohol advertising spend and per capita sales of beer, wine and spirits in the US over the period from 1971 to 2012.

The study concluded that alcohol consumption remained relatively constant throughout that period. During the same time, alcohol advertising expenditure rose 400%.

He added that the concept that alcohol advertising leads to increased levels of underage drinking was based on “highly-flawed advocacy driven research” which has since been refuted.

Since 2012, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago and Washington D.C and Boston have all repealed their public transit alcohol advertising bans.

Swonger cited his desire to work with government leaders and stakeholders to help reduce underage drinking and promote responsible advertising.

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