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Time To Ban Car Advertising

A radical proposal from San Francisco: if you want to end automobile dependence, stop fetishizing the automobile. Disallowing its advertisement would be a start.
February 13, 2006, 10am PST | David Gest
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Want to get serious about the problem of America's "addiction to oil" (in President Bush's immortal terms)? Ban car commercials on radio and television! So suggests a recently published opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The author of the piece, Bob Ecker (president of the Bay Area Travel Writers), is not an anti-car fanatic. Indeed, he writes "Cars are wonderful machines, I'll freely admit, and powerful tools that help us maintain our modern lives." But, he writes, "our country's obsessive consumption of oil to fill the tanks of our auto-centric culture may eventually kill off the world, and believe it or not, Mr. and Mrs. America, you and I will go down, too."

For this reason, Ecker takes the position that it's time for drastic measures, and for guidance he turns to the history of the anti-smoking movement. In 1966, he notes, cigarette use was at an all-time high, with Americans 18 years and older smoking 4,287 cigarettes per capita. A ban on tobacco advertisements became law on April 1, 1970. Today the number of adult American who smoke cigarettes has dropped to 1,791 per capita (latest figures for 2004, from the Centers for Disease Control).

"This drastic transformation eventually brought about positive social change, despite the bleating of mega-corporations," writes Ecker. His piece in the San Francisco Chronicle raises the question: wouldn't a similar ban on car commercials do the same in the fight against automobile dependency?

Thanks to Jacob Allderdice

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Published on Monday, February 6, 2006 in The San Francisco Chronicle
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