The 2018 Coca-Cola Christmas tour has been scaled back in response to concerns raised by a coalition of organisations including FGDP(UK).
The annual tour, which has been running since 1995, sees two promotional lorries decorated with 9,000 fairy lights visit high streets and shopping centres in dozens of towns and cities around the UK to distribute 150ml sample cans to children and adults.
Last year’s tour took in 42 locations, 60% of which were in areas where five and 12 year-olds had higher-than-average rates of dental caries, prompting the Chief Executive of Public Health England to respond:
"Big-name brands touring the country at Christmas to advertise their most sugary products to children and boost sales does nothing to help families make healthy choices and wider efforts to combat childhood obesity and rotten teeth."
Following sustained national and local opposition, this year’s tour has been scaled back from 38 planned locations to only 24, and many visits have moved from city centres to supermarket car parks. Today, 83 health organisations and local authorities sent an open letter, signed by the Faculty Dean, to Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca-Cola UK and Ireland, calling on the company to hand out only sugar-free drinks.
The full text of the letter and list of signatories is available here.
Update, 15 November 2018: in a response to the letter, Mr Woods says that 90% of the samples given out this year would be zero sugar varieties, and pledged that no drinks would be given out to children under 12 without a parent present.