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Members of the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force (ABSATF), a non-profit prevention coalition supported by St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, worked arduously with a group known as SAFE-MA (Supporting an Alcohol Ad Free Environment in Massachusetts) to successfully remove alcohol advertising from the view of youth who ride the MBTA. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health honored them with one of six Community Transformation Awards at its annual Ounce of Prevention Conference.
SAFE-MA spent years advocating for the elimination of alcohol advertising on state owned property, including the MBTA. Last January, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Richard Davey announced the MBTA would prohibit alcohol ads on their property, saying that the proposal had been discussed for months and is the right thing to do.
Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach presented the award to SAFE-MA co-chairs Elizabeth Parsons, who is a Steward employee and community coordinator of ABSATF, and Cory Mashburn after the coalition was nominated for the award by MOAR (Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery) Executive Director Maryanne Frangules.
A youth member, Yasmari Estrada, from the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force who has been involved with SAFE-MA, says of the ban, “It’s nice to be able to go to a train station like Kenmore and not see alcohol ads. I’d rather see college ads or something more interesting than alcohol ads.” Parsons added,
“Boston youth told the MBTA how alcohol ads negatively affect them and the T listened.”
Mashburn said, “Our success is the result of support from a lot of people, especially Representative Walsh and we also of course owe a huge thanks to Richard Davey.” Last January, Davey was quoted in boston.com as saying, “Alcohol ads on the MBTA can have a negative effect, particularly on those who are under the age of 21, so we looked at the information, talked to some of our peers, and decided it was prudent.”
The coalition is still pursuing a bill that would ban alcohol advertising on all state-owned property, with state Representative Martin Walsh from Dorchester as the lead sponsor. The Bill favorably passed the committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight and is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill, HB851, has until December 31, 2012 to pass, otherwise SAFE-MA will pursue the bill next year.