Students from the Youth Leadership Institute were hoping for a new law that would regulate the amount of ads that are displayed on windows at Clovis stores.
Hoping to minimize the impact of cigarette ads and other similar ads that can negatively influence the youth, the students presented their case at the Clovis City Council meeting on Monday, March 20.
Led by YLI Program Manager Cynthia Sapien Rocha, the students provided statistics and personal stories to show how too many ads can negatively impact young people.
But the council did not approve YLI’s request, which was to allow commercial buildings to cover only 15 percent of their window with ads. The council agreed with Lt. Curt Fleming, who said Clovis already complies with the state law of 25 percent and it would be unrealistic to reduce that amount.
“Our city is already in the forefront in terms of being able to reduce ads from 33 percent to the state standard 25 percent,” Fleming said. “We have a decent hold on that compliance. We think that at this time to take an additional 10 percent would be difficult to do so. We are still trying to get 100 percent compliance at 25 percent.”
Aside from the impact on youth, YLI said that too many ads on a window can make it difficult for police to see what is happening in the store. Fleming agreed with YLI on that point.
“Our main concern is being able to see in the store if there is a robbery and somebody needs help,” Fleming said.
Although YLI’s request was not approved, Fleming said he looks forward to working with the youth to make sure their voice is heard.
“Anytime we are aware of an issue, it gets in the forefront and we go out to get compliance from the community or store owners,” Fleming said.
Despite the outcome of the meeting, Rocha said the group is not discouraged.
“We got some really positive remarks from the city council. I do appreciate them giving direction to the planning commission as well as the police department to make sure this is a little bit higher on their priority list when it comes to compliance,” Rocha said. “It’s not just about catching those merchants who are practicing illegal practices like selling to minors, but also being responsible in their advertising.”
The council encouraged YLI to keep up the work.
“We will do a follow up to see if there has been any changes, to see if 25 percent is being complied,” Rocha said.
YLI’s additional concern is that too many ads make the city unattractive.
“Ideally we want 15 percent. Fifteen percent aesthetically looks better,” Rocha said. “It makes the stores looks more inviting.”
YLI also believes that ads should not be placed low on windows.
“If these products aren’t made to target youth, it shouldn’t be at youth eye level,” Rocha said. “Young people can be easily influenced.”
Justin Bailey, one of the students representing YLI, said he recently quit smoking and he worries that others around him will start smoking because of ads.
“Even with my friend’s daughter she walks around with me and seeing those advertisements is very disturbing because I don’t want her to pick up on that bad habit,” Bailey said. “She is almost a year old now and already walking, but still seeing those signs that are right there. What is she going to do? Is she going to pick that up?”
Bailey believes that YLI’s presentation can make a big difference.
“I feel that it went great because city council actually listened to us,” he said. “A lot of the time the youth doesn’t really have a voice. Us youth don’t usually have the opportunity to go talk at these meetings. Being able to get our story heard is a big deal.”