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Statement from Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President at Vital Strategies, on how big tobacco’s tactics shaped the children’s sugary drinks market

(New York, USA) – Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President at Vital Strategies, has issued the following statement in response to the findings detailed in “Tobacco industry involvement in children’s sugary drinks market.” This new research from University of California San Francisco reveals that tobacco companies adapted youth-focused marketing strategies for their tobacco products—including kid-focused flavors, cartoon characters and aiming marketing messages and efforts on children—to develop sugary drinks brands that are still popular today. Mullin said:

“UCSF’s new paper demonstrating that leading soda brands directly inherited egregious, youth-focused marketing tactics from Big Tobacco is appalling, but not shocking. Earlier reports, including Vital Strategies’ “Fool Me Twice,” have detailed how international soda companies use tobacco industry tactics to market to children and derail public health policies that could reduce obesity and improve population health. But UCSF’s detailed work show these industries are even more closely entangled, with the roots of their shared playbook dating back to when tobacco companies owned and developed leading sugary drinks brands.

It’s a shameful track record and deserves a robust response. Regulators need to look critically at both the sugary drinks industry and big tobacco, policymakers should prohibit these vested interests from participating in policymaking, and consumers need to be wary of how these products are marketed. All unhealthy products should be regulated appropriately, to protect the health of children and adults.”

Vital Strategies’ global portfolio of public health programs includes work on both tobacco control and obesity prevention. To learn more visit

Media Contact:

Christina Honeysett, Vital Strategies:; +1.914.424.3356

Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies:; +44.(0)7889.081.170

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.