Price of pu­ri­tanism

Boston Herald - - INSIDE TRACK -

Pot shops are poised to open on street cor­ners all across the com­mon­wealth. But MBTA man­age­ment is still feel­ing queasy about al­low­ing beer ads back on T prop­erty, out of con­cern for young pas­sen­gers who are prob­a­bly too busy star­ing at their phones to no­tice. It would be funny if it weren’t so short-sighted.

The T, locked in a chronic strug­gle to bal­ance its bud­get, es­ti­mates it could bring in $2.5 mil­lion a year by al­low­ing lim­ited al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing on T prop­erty, which had been per­mit­ted un­til 2012. But the Fis­cal Man­age­ment and Con­trol Board on Mon­day dead­locked on an ad­ver­tis­ing pro­posal, fail­ing even to reach agree­ment on the pa­ram­e­ters of a pi­lot project to test it out.

The pro­posal would have lim­ited al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing to cer­tain hours inside T sta­tions, and for­bid­den it at sta­tions where the high­est num­ber of stu­dent passes are used. Af­ter a round of give-and-take, re­ports Com­mon­wealth mag­a­zine, four mem­bers of the board dead­locked (the fifth was ab­sent).

“We des­per­ately need money, but there are cer­tain places we need to draw some lines,” said board mem­ber Brian Lang. “It isn’t good for the over­all cli­mate of our so­ci­ety.”

Nei­ther are pro­fan­ity and bul­ly­ing on so­cial me­dia but we don’t tell kids they can’t go on­line. And al­co­hol ads are ram­pant dur­ing foot­ball games but we don’t tell them they can’t watch the Pats.

The no-booze-ads pol­icy is well-in­ten­tioned but, in 2017, sim­ply ridicu­lous. Young peo­ple aren’t get­ting their so­cial cues from pass­ing buses. And we find it par­tic­u­larly hyp­o­crit­i­cal for the city of Bos­ton to protest the T ad­ver­tis­ing, since Bos­ton al­lows booze ads on street fur­ni­ture — in­clud­ing bus shel­ters.

The head of a neigh­bor­hood civic as­so­ci­a­tion who is op­posed to the re­sump­tion of al­co­hol ads on the T com­plained about a re­cent bill­board he saw that ad­ver­tised beer on a beach, not­ing most beaches for­bid al­co­holic bev­er­ages. (Has he never heard of red Solo cups?)

The more im­por­tant ques­tion — is this prud­ish­ness re­ally driv­ing MBTA pol­icy?

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