WTA ad bans expanded to include marijuana, e-cigs

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

If you're wondering where to find the new marijuana stores, don't scan Whatcom Transportation Authority buses for the answer.

The WTA Board of Directors expanded the agency's list of banned advertising content to include marijuana and e-cigarettes, at the board's Thursday, May 15, meeting.

In its unanimous decision, the board also decided to prohibit ads that expressed an opinion on "matters of public debate related to economic, political, religious or social issues." WTA officials had in mind hate groups who pay for bus advertising only to have it challenged before a transit agency has a policy in place.

They are "inspired less by the advertising benefit they would achieve than by the notoriety they could get," WTA Communications and Marketing Manager Maureen McCarthy told the board.

What about causes more likely to request advertising locally, such as "Good Jobs Now" or "No Coal Trains"?

That would be harder to decide, McCarthy said.

"It would give us a basis to have a conversation," McCarthy said in an interview. "What could hurt us is really having ads that make people mad. ... We could err on the side of staying neutral."

WTA also reworded its prohibition on advertising firearms to include "weapons" in general.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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