“Raid in the shade: Men with guns are cracking down on brand-name bar umbrellas” says the Times-Picayune headline. Strange but true. They’re protecting the public from seeing alcohol beverage brand names.
Armed officers of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) have been making demands. Specifically, that cafes remove all their outdoor umbrellas that show any alcohol brand name.
The umbrellas are the international symbol of the café experience. They are from the boulevards of Paris to the bistros of Buenos Aires to the beaches of Miami. However, they’re illegal in Louisiana. Seeing them will make people drink, at least that’s the view of Louisiana’s 1930s temperance-era law. Of course, drinking is bad — perhaps even sinful.
And alcohol-branded umbrellas aren’t the only prohibited contraband. Louisiana law specifically prohibits bars and restaurants from displaying the brand name of any alcoholic beverage outside their establishments. That includes any such display that are at all visible anywhere from outside the premises. They must be completely shielded from the eyes of innocents.
Observes one restaurant operator, “Here’s the stupid thing. I could put an umbrella out there that says ‘Kiss My A _ _ and that wouldn’t be illegal. But because it says ‘Bud,’ we gotta get rid of it.”
He doesn’t understand — just doesn’t get it. Seeing “Kiss My A _ _” wouldn’t make anyone drink alcohol so it doesn’t corrupt or harm society.
We can all sleep better now, at least in Louisiana.
Resources: Protecting the Public from Seeing Alcohol Beverage Brand Names
Gunter, B., et al. Hansen, A. Alcohol Advertising and Young People’s Drinking. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
Newman, L. Does Advertising Promote Substance Abuse? Detroit: Thomson/Gale, 2005.
Wilcox, G., et al. Beer, wine, or spirits? Advertising’s impact on four decades of category sales. Int J Ad, 2015.