MBTA's Alcohol Ad Ban Is a Total Waste

Score another $1.5 million for the Massachusetts nanny brigade. That’s how much the broke and beleaguered MBTA stands to lose thanks to a self-imposed ban on alcohol advertisements on its property or vehicles starting July 1.

According to the Globe, the move “follows a presentation made last month by high schoolers from an Allston-Brighton-based substance abuse youth coalition before state Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey.” It’s bad enough when we’re being treated like children by other adults, but now we have a bunch of teenagers influencing policy? Perhaps next they can go to the Department of Health to complain about how condom ads encourage recreational sex or the epidemic of bullying on talk radio.

Michael Scippa, spokesman for a California-based teetotalers’ organization Alcohol Justice, said “That space is easily rented to another company, another product.” Scippa ought to consider a career change to advertising sales, which would benefit his own wallet and those of us who depend on the T to get around the city.

A million-and-a-half might not seem like a whole lot (particularly if your last name rhymes with “omni”), but that’s the same as a year’s worth of unlimited bus and subway fares for nearly 2,100 people. That’s money that could help keep a couple of bus routes from being cancelled, refurbishing a few derelict subway cars, or satisfying any of the other $1.65 billion in annual expenses needed to keep the T limping along in its current, half-hearted state.

And even if we assume that Big Booze’s big bucks can be easily replaced by more ads for the Boston Vegetarian Society and the Garment District, this move is a further example of the creeping childification of our lives. The T is a public space used by people of all ages, the vast majority of whom are legal consumers of alcohol. Kids drink for all the same reasons adults do — to make their peers better-looking and funnier, for instance — and also for the delicious thrill of rebellion and rejecting society’s entirely reasonable claim that they’re far too immature and stupid to be trusted with anything stronger than a lemonade.

But shrouding alcohol in mystery only adds to its illicit glamor while further eroding adults of the freedoms they’ve rightly earned by not getting themselves killed before the age of 21. Indeed, few things could probably do more to allay the coolness of a glass of whiskey than to take a 16-year-old to a Financial District bar around 6 p.m. to take in the panorama of old people in suits standing around talking about the size of their portfolios or golf handicaps. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — so long as they ride the commuter rail home.