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Transit Advertising with Alcohol and Violent Content on Public Platforms: A Descriptive Study of Advertisements Within the New York City Subway System

Fullwood, Marvin Dottington

Two of the most important behaviors affecting youth are alcohol use and aggression. Advertisements that promote alcohol consumption and display aggressive images and words may influence attitudes and behaviors of youth. While there is considerable research on these kinds of advertisements in various media channels, there is limited research describing such advertising within public transit systems. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to describe and prevalence and characteristics of advertisements about alcohol and with violent content on the platform walls of the New York City subway system.
Methods: A cross-sectional design with direct observations was used to document all advertisements in four boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Subway stations with and without advertising were identified and selected characteristics of advertisements about alcohol and with violent content were described. The presence of advertisements was examined based on racial/ethnic and income characteristics of station location using logistic regression.
Results: Of 472 subway stations observed, 143 contained 8,737 advertisements, including duplicates. Of the 143 stations with any type of advertisements, 76 (53.1%) displayed one or more alcohol advertisements while over 95% included one or more advertisements with violent content (136 of 143). Of the 8,737 advertisements observed, 129 (1.5%) were for alcohol (including three public service messages) and 1,154 (13.2%) had violent content. Almost two-thirds of the 129 advertisements about alcohol were for beer. There were 144 advertisements that pictured guns. Not one public service announcement for violence prevention was observed. Examination of the presence of advertisements based on racial/ethnic and income characteristics of station location (n = 454 with complete data) showed no differences for advertisements with violent content, but greater odds of alcohol advertisements being present in locations with a higher percentage of Black population. Considerable variability existed between neighborhoods within each borough.
Conclusions: Almost 9,000 advertisements were documented in this study. Despite the low number of advertisements about alcohol, one or more such advertisements was present in over one-half of the stations with advertising. Advertisements with violent content were pervasive. Recommendations focus on how public transit spaces can be used more productively to help cultivate caring communities.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Basch, Charles E.
Carrera, Michael A.
Degree
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 13, 2018