Coca-Cola is withdrawing its advertising from school vending machines across the UK.

The beverage giant says the decision, which extends an arrangement in Scotland to the rest of the country, recognises that schools should be "commercial-free".

Amid mounting criticism of food and drink marketing to children, Coke last month promised to remove branding from drinks dispensers in Scottish schools -- said to be the first agreement of its kind in the world [WAMN: 29-Dec-03]. It also vowed to put more fruit juice and bottled water on sale inside the machines.

Now the same will apply in England and Wales, where Coke operates about 4,000 machines in some 1,500 secondary schools. Instead of Coke branding, the outsides of these machines will show cartoon pictures of children playing.

"We share the view that classrooms should be a commercial-free area and clearly there is some conflict then with highly visible, highly branded machines," declared Ian Deste, head of corporate affairs at Coca-Cola Enterprises (GB).

The scheme was given a guarded welcome by some campaigners, with Tim Lobstein, co-director of the Food Commission calling it a "small step in the right direction".

His sentiments were echoed by Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers. "This is a sensible move," he declared, "but we would like to see the end of advertising unhealthy food and drink to children altogether."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff