Dozens of young people joined legislative and medical leaders yesterday in downtown Boston to rally support for a bill that would ban alcohol advertising on all state property.
State Representative Martin J. Walsh said he is “very confident’’ that the measure, which he is cosponsoring, would pass the House and Senate and become law by July 31.
The movement gained a boost this week when the MBTA said that, beginning July 1, it would prohibit alcohol ads from appearing on all of its property, including inside subway cars, trains and buses.
If the proposed law is approved, it would ban alcohol ads from such places as billboards on state property and on marketing space along state-owned buildings.
Many at yesterday’s rally outside the Park Street T station said they believe that alcohol ads, particularly on public transit, contribute to teen drinking.
“They’re everywhere,’’ said Julia Roberto, a ninth-grader at Boston Latin School. “They’re in my face and I can’t avoid them. The effects of alcohol ads on youth and underage drinking are well-documented, and yet Massachusetts still puts them out there.’’
Roberto played a key role in helping to persuade T administrators to take a stand against the ads. Last month, she and four of her high school-age peers from the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force made a presentation before state Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey and the board of directors for the department that oversees the MBTA.
“When the kids came in to see me, they said, ‘This is our school bus,’ and we have tens of thousands of kids in the city and in the neighborhoods taking the MBTA to school each day,’’ Davey told State House News Service yesterday.
Prior to that meeting, former governor Michael S. Dukakis e-mailed a letter to the board in support of the ban. Yesterday, Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, applauded the T’s move and urged lawmakers to pass the proposed law.
“It’s not an accident, it seems to us, that [alcohol advertisements] are principally in areas where kids and college students tend to be,’’ Dukakis said by phone from California. “We shouldn’t be using public transportation to advertise alcohol.’’
Added Kitty Dukakis: “I’ve been in recovery for a while, and obviously when you have issues yourself you look at the broader picture. But you don’t have to be a recovering alcoholic to want this to work. We all have to be in this together.’’
Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.