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Fight Heats Up to Protect Bay Area Kids from Alcohol Advertising

Local Groups, County Supervisors Take Action on BART's Alcohol Ads and Alcopops

SAN RAFAEL, CA - Activity is picking up in Bay Area communities and among county supervisors fighting to protect children from the alcohol industry's harmful advertising in a series of events this week. Community groups and local youth have spurred both the San Francisco and Contra Costa County Boards of Supervisors to take action on BART's recent decision to allow alcohol ads in stations and trains. Advocates will also file suit in Alameda County to keep sweet, fruity "alcopops" out of kids' hands.

Marin Institute, the alcohol industry watchdog, is leading a coalition of Bay Area nonprofits who oppose the BART Board of Directors recent change in policy on allowing alcohol advertising. The coalition was instrumental in getting the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to pass a resolution opposing BART alcohol ads on October 31, 2006 and in prompting the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors to consider a similar resolution tomorrow (November 14), where it is expected to easily pass. "The BART Board is not supposed to be promoting booze, it's supposed to be running a safe and efficient transit system," said Bruce Livingston, Executive Director of Marin Institute.

Over one-third of the alcohol industry's profits come from high risk drinking by adults and young people. These vulnerable groups, like youth and people in recovery from alcohol, will be exposed to more alcohol advertising as a result of BART's decision to accept alcohol ads. "Alcohol-related problems already place a heavy burden on public safety and health services in Bay Area communities," said Livingston. "BART shouldn't put profits above the public's health." The BART Board of Directors is expected to have a hearing to consider rescinding their policy allowing alcohol ads on December 7, 2006.

Community advocates statewide are also fighting to limit the availability of an alcohol product that has special appeal to teens. These drinks, sometimes called "alcopops," are sweet, fizzy, taste like soda, and have alcohol levels greater than beer. This makes them extremely popular with young drinkers, especially teen girls. The American Medical Association found that alcopops are most popular with young girls ages 10-14. A lawsuit will be filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday, asking the Board of Equalization to correctly tax alcopops. (For more information on that lawsuit and a press conference Wednesday, 11 a.m. at the County Government Center in San Jose, call Laurel Anderson at 408-299-5119).

Community leaders fighting to protect Bay Area kids from alcohol advertising and marketing include Alcohol Policy Network, Berkeley; California Friday Night Live Partnership (active in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo); CommPre, a program of Horizon Services, Inc., Hayward; EPIC (Environmental Prevention in Communities), Berkeley; Marin Institute, San Rafael; Partnership for a Safe and Healthy Pacifica, Pacifica; and Youth Leadership Institute, San Francisco.

The Marin Institute is an alcohol industry watchdog based in San Rafael, CA.

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