State changes advertising regs. Neons coming down.

I am posting this because I’m curious to see if anyone cares. I am particularity curious to hear what people in the industry think. Yesterday the Liquor Control Board adopted revised rules restricting outdoor alcohol advertising at all establishments serving and selling alcohol. Among other things, this rule impacts the size and number of signs a bar can have in the window. In short, there will be a lot of neon signs coming down next month. The new restrictions are effective April 3.

According to the Liquor Control Board, the revised rules are based on public input requesting that the board place restrictions on the size, amount and location of alcohol advertising at liquor-licensed locations.

Here are some of the highlights.

  • Limiting to four the number of signs advertising alcohol, brand names and manufacturers that are visible from the outside of a retail licensed premises such as stores, bars and restaurants.
  • Restricting the size of alcohol signs visible from the outside of a retail licensed premises to 1,600 square inches.
  • Applying the rules to signs at civic events where alcohol is served, such as beer gardens.

The complete Notice of Rule Change can be found here.

Here is the explanatory statement issued by the Liquor Control Board:

Amendatory Section WAC 314-52-070 – Outdoor advertising.
Amended language to restrict the number of signs advertising alcohol, brand names, and/or manufacturers that are visible from the public right of way on the outside of a retail premises to a total of four. The size of the signs is limited to 1600 square inches. Amended language to restrict outdoor advertising within 500 feet of places of worship, schools, public playgrounds, or athletic fields used primarily by children. Added back language “where the administrative body of said church, school, public playground or athletic field object to such placement”. The 500 feet is measured from the property line of the place of worship, school, public playground or athletic field to the outdoor sign. Added language that gives a local jurisdiction the option to exempt liquor licenses in their jurisdiction from the outdoor advertising restrictions in this section through a local ordinance. “Tourist Oriented Designation Signs” per RCW 47.36.320 are exempt from this requirement.



  1. this is stupid. I only care because it’s a complete waste of our state governments time while we are being taxed more. why don’t they try cutting back on wasting time on frivolous agendas like this.

  2. FYI – Here’s the yada-yada blah-blah: “In 2008, a comparison was conducted on the LCB’s advertising rules based on a 2003 Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) report. It was determined the LCB needed to update their alcohol advertising rules to reflect the agency’s focus on public safety by minimizing youth access and exposure to alcohol advertising.”

  3. i just hope local community based not-for-profit agencies are inadvertently hurt by this ruling. a lot of local fundraising events sell beer donated by local breweries to help with the fund raising. the beer is normally donated in exchange for putting up a few banners/signs advertising the beer being served/sold on site. i just hope the smaller breweries are willing to part with their well crafted kegs if the upside of advertising at the event makes less of an impact.

  4. Another rule that passes the buck onto the business rather than the parents in regards to rule of consumption.

    And realistically, it seems only a matter of time before they insist that internal advertising be removed where children are present.

    I just wish the rules applied for all and not some (eg, soda signs also be taken down as they cater to children as well).

    Thanks for the notice on this, guys.

  5. WooHoo!! Been wanting Rainier & branded Seahawks neon signs foe eons!!!! Sending my daddy to the fire sale @the local bars!!!!!!!

  6. Wow.. as much as I hate gaudy neon signs I think this is a pretty lame infringement on free-open-market. If the public disapproves of such advertising antics, they would respond by not patronizing such establishments. Isn’t it the right of a business owner to make their place look an feel the way they want?

    I mean,”minimizing youth access and exposure to alcohol advertising”??? I really don’t think that this is the source of the problem… in fact I think there are probably only a handful of extremists that would believe such rot.


  7. Agree with the education not legislation points made above.

    Really, how much of an impact do neon bars sign have on kids? I don’t really recall seeing/recognizing what they were until high school.

    One would think that cute Clydesdales on TV during the Superbowl might have a greater a appeal.

    Heres to only seeing Bud Light, Miller Light and Coor Light neons!

  8. I agree. With the ability to only post a handful of signs, I would think that the average bar will only put up signs for the big boys. I am so happy when i see a Boundary Bay or Diamond Knot sign at a place that I normally wouldn’t go in. Now I will just have to cross my fingers and walk through the door.

  9. The WSLCB is completely out of control. This is absolutely ridiculous and arbitrary. Do they really have nothing better to do than to regulate what is in the windows of bars? What does this accomplish? Is this the best way to spend taxpayers money?

  10. Another example of the contol our State wants. They could have found a revenue stream and taxed the signs and utilized this new money source for alcohol education of the state’s youth. Everyone should let their local state representation know they do not agree with this rule change.

  11. As someone who works in the field of substance abuse prevention, including the reduction of underage drinking, I constantly hear from alcohol industry representatives and advocates that they, too, want to make sure that youth don’t get their hands on alcohol. Yet, when sound prevention policies such as this are put in place (check out the CAMY website — we’re called “extremists” or other unhelpful names.

    I agree, it isn’t JUST alcohol advertising that is contributing to underage drinking but it is a factor. Most prevention-minded people who advocated for strengthening alcohol advertising laws in this state come from communities where they are working to prevent underage drinking on several fronts — from research-based prevention curriculum for kids; prevention education programs for parents; media campaigns targeting parents; and working with retailers and law enforcement to encourage the checking of ID’s, to name a few. Preventing underage drinking and youth substance abuse takes more than one strategy to be effective. Changing contributing factors throughout the community, including, but not limited to, strengthening alcohol advertising regulations, is important if we’re serious about preventing underage drinking.

  12. I applaud the Liquor Control Board’s action to reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising. Cleaning up the alcohol advertising environment our youth are growing up in sends a strong message that adults are making it a priority to keep youth healthy and safe.

    Everyone, regardless of age, is exposed to out-of-home alcohol advertisements, almost as soon as they walk out the door. The connection between youth exposure to alcohol ads and underage drinking is well-documented. The more ads kids see, the more likely they are to drink. Alcohol marketing significantly influences youth and adult expectations and attitudes, creating an
    environment that promotes underage drinking.

    There is so much more to be done to protect youth from alcohol marketing. Between 2001 and 2005, youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television increased by 41%. Alcohol ads within this period appeared every year on 13 or more of the 15 programs most popular with teens ages 12 to 17. More than 40% of youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television came from ads placed on youth-oriented programming: programs with disproportionately large audiences of 12-to 20-year-olds.

    It’s a fact that youth use alcohol more than any other drug, including tobacco. Holding the alcohol industry accountable for their role in this, and decreasing youth exposure to a product that is illegal and unhealthy for them to use, is a step in the right direction.

  13. I feel like this conversation has changed… the issue here is not whether under-age drinking is bad or not, but rather whether it is within the rights of the state to legislate what signage may or may not be displayed.

    That being said I find it interesting that you wish to argue for the position that advertising encourages underage drinking.. that seems pretty self-explanitory… I think the contention that most readers here will have (correct me if I’m wrong everyone) is that alcohol is a part of life to be enjoyed. And yes it can be abused and has been throughout history.. but what causes the most damage I am convinced is the prohibition and stigmatization which causes young people to “act out”. Any psychotherapist will tell you that destymatization is the first step toward disarming rebellious behavior.. These kids need someone to listen to them not give them one more thing which they shouldn’t do (and by doing they get more attention don’t they?).

    I can’t speak to any of the numbers quoted above, because they are completely un-sourced but quite frankly I think a better strategy would be to show young people what healthy and non-abusive drinking looks like… for this reason I think the the continual censorship of alcohol is really what is behind our country’s puritanical tendency to abuse the substance.

    What is really at issue here, in my humble opinion is that it is not right for a small group of people to push for legislation which places their own values on everyone else. We are NOT POWERLESS without legislation, so let’s use legislation in ways which are not so esoteric.

  14. This nanny state mentality is a joke.

    The idea that in the window of a business increase or affect underage drinking is unbelievable.

    There are no signs for marijuana. That’s working out really well!

    Of course it isn’t.

    Prohibiting alcohol entirely didn’t work. How is restricting signage going to accomplish anything?

    Making it a forbidden fruit, as the commenter above indicated — that only encourages abuse.

    Enforce the age laws in place, parents talk to their kids, set a good example — THAT is they way to educate children about alcohol.

    And get the state OUT of the retail liquor business!

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