Richmond council to vote on alcohol billboard ban


One billboard in Richmond shows soccer players celebrating. It's an ad for a beer company. It's what students at a nearby Richmond schools see most morning and afternoons.

"It's time to tell the alcohol industry they can't glamorize alcohol to kids. It's just wrong," city council member Jim Rogers told ABC7 News. He is behind an ordinance to ban alcohol billboards within 1,000 feet of schools -- that's less than 1/5 of a mile.

Although, most people that spoke with ABC7 News Monday said banning the billboards won't solve many of the problems young people in Richmond face these days.

"It's not the board that kids first see in the morning, it's the parents, if there is one there," Linda Compton said.

"I think it should be up to the parents, not to the council people, denying people of their constitutional rights," James Austin said.

The companies that advertise their product say commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment. Still, the federal courts have concluded that some advertisements may be regulated.

Rogers argues that there are studies that prove that these messages have an impact on teens. "Kids that see billboards start drinking young and kids who start drinking at 15 are five times more likely to become problem drinkers than kids who start at 21. So, it's a serious issue," he said.

Oakland started banning alcohol billboards near residential areas and schools in 1998. "Certainly, all the messages that they're receiving whether it's internet, TV, and even on billboards, all have negative connotations to it," said Oakland City Council Member Noel Gallo.

Still, Oakland has never conducted a study to see if the ban has been effective.

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