Many groups such as Scenic America have complained that billboards on highways cause excessive clearing of trees and intrude on the surrounding landscape, with billboards’ bright colors, lights and large fonts making it difficult to focus on anything else, making them a form of visual pollution. Other groups believe that billboards and advertising in general contribute negatively to the mental climate of a culture by promoting products as providing feelings of completeness, wellness and popularity to motivate purchase. One focal point for this sentiment would be the magazine AdBusters, which will often showcase politically motivated billboard and other advertising vandalism, called culture jamming.
In 2007, São Paulo, Brazil instituted a billboard ban because there were no viable regulations of the billboard industry. Today, São Paulo, Brazil, is working with outdoor companies in the region to rebuild the outdoor infrastructure in a way that will reflect the vibrant business climate of the city while adopting good regulations to control growth.
Laws limiting billboards
Around major holidays, volunteer groups erected highway signs offering free coffee at the next rest stop. These were specifically exempted from the limits in the act.
Currently, four states—Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine—have prohibited billboards. Vermont’s law went into effect in 1968, Hawaii’s law went into effect in 1927, Maine’s law went into effect in 1979, and Alaska’s law went into effect upon its achievement of statehood in 1959.
In the UK, billboards are controlled as adverts as part of the planning system. To display such an advert is a criminal offence with a fine of up to £2500 per offence (per poster). All of the large UK outdoor advertisers such as CBS Outdoor, JCDecaux, Clear Channel, Titan and Primesight have numerous convictions for such crimes.
In Toronto, Canada, a municipal tax on billboards was implemented in April 2010. A portion of the tax will go to help fund arts programs in the city.