Public health experts are calling for Coca-Cola to be banned from running a Christmas-themed giveaway tour in festive trucks.
Experts in the UK have said the jaunt (pictured above in London) – accompanied by a storied, popular ad campaign – contributes to childhood obesity, and must end.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, two public health professionals attacked the drinks brand for trying to “hijack” Christmas by driving around English towns and handing out 150ml cans of drink.
The promotion ties in with the televised “holidays are coming” annual advertising campaign, which has become an unofficial symbol of the start of Christmas:
However, authors Robin Ireland and John R Ashton said that the health risks outweigh any fun which the drinks might bring, and called on the Government to ban the tour:
Should this form of advertising and marketing be banned, given the growing evidence of the effect that marketing of unhealthy food and drink has on children?
We believe it should and will continue to push for national action from organisations such as Public Health England to stop similar campaigns next Christmas.
The authors explained the odd timing of calling to ban a Christmas stunt in January by saying they circulated a petition at the time – but nobody cared enough to publicize it.
In a statement to Heat Street, England’s public health authority backed the ban – but admitted it has no way to enforce it.
A spokesman said: “Big name brands promoting their most sugar-laden products to children like this is simply not in the spirit of helping families make healthy choices and wider efforts to combat childhood obesity.”
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola hit back, saying that customers responded well to the giveaway, which had age limits on participation.
A spokesman said: “We had a really positive response from consumers to last year’s Christmas truck tour.
“As part of the experience people could enjoy a small 150ml can of Coca-Cola Classic or one of our two no-sugar options – Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Zero Sugar.
“We operate the tour in line with our responsible marketing policy and we do not provide drinks to under-12s unless their parent or guardian is present and happy for us to do so.”
The British Government is already on maneuvers against fizzy drinks.
Draft legislation for a tax was published last month, and is set to increase the price of a can of Coca-Cola by around 10%.