Controversy over advertisements in the subway isn't new to the MTA, but now, there's a push to do away with ads that promote alcohol. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
A coalition of clergy and community activists joined with a city councilman Wednesday to demand that the transit system go dry by banning ads that promote alcohol.
"The MTA removed tobacco ads in the 1990s to protect health. They also forbid other categories of ads in order to protect children. So why don't they do the same for alcohol ads?" said City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens.
The ads, they said, encourage teenage drinking, and they cited studies that show black and Hispanic communities get a disproportionate number of them.
"When the youth take public transportation to school, the movies or even the park, advertising should not add to their problem, but fix it," said Kylie Cortez of the Forward South Bronx Coalition.
The MTA says alcohol ads added $7.5 million to its bottom line in 2014, the last year for which figures are available. The revenue, the agency says, is poured back into service.
A spokesman added, "MTA prohibits fixed ads for alcohol advertisements within at least 500 feet of schools, playgrounds, and places of worship. We don't allow ads that promote unlawful or illegal activities, including alcohol ads that unduly encourage underage drinking."
Alcohol ads are not the first subway advertisements to cause controversy. Last year, the MTA won a court battle over its right to ban ads widely seen as anti-Islamic. And check out ads hawking everything from plus-sized lingerie to breast augmentation to the perfect beach body. Sex sells in the subway.
"Stuff like boobs and everything, it really shouldn't be advertised," said one commuter.
The advocates say they don't like the sex ads, either, but the liquor ads are a bigger problem.
"There's all types of stuff in the subway. But the alcohol, I think, is really problematic," said Christopher McKay of the Church of God of Prophecy.
The advocates say the MTA should be taking a cue from other cities whose transit systems have banned alcohol ads.
"New York City is supposed to be a leader. We are not yet in that position," Dromm said.
For now, the proposed ban on ads is on ice.