Shops will be banned from selling Red Bull and other drinks “packed to the brim with caffeine” to teenagers, under plans announced by Theresa May.
Government to introduce energy drinks ban for teenagers and children
The scheme will see retailers blocked from selling energy drinks to under 16s and possibly even under 18s - writes independent.co.uk
Insiders toldThe Independentthe intention is to use the same sanctions as selling cigarettes to children – meaning shops could be slapped with fines of£2,500.
Ms May said she was acting as evidence shows excessive consumption of the drinks by children is linked to serious health problems. Some deaths are even connected to them.
The move was welcomed by campaigners including Jamie Oliver , but there will be a backlash from manufacturers and even some ministers who see it as “nanny-statism”.
Speaking during her trip to Africa, the prime minister said: “With thousands of young people regularly consuming energy drinks, often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks, we will consult on banning the sale of energy drinks to children.
“It is vital that we do all we can to make sure children have the best start in life.”
She launched a consultation on exactly how the ban should work, though the intention is it will apply to drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre.
Confirming the measure will now be pushed through, one government insider said: “It is a question of how, not whether we do it.”
One 250ml can of Red Bull contains around 80mg of caffeine – the equivalent of nearly three cans of cola.
Some energy drinks also contain exceptionally high levels of sugar, with on average 60 per cent more calories and 65 per cent more sugar than other regular soft drinks.
With more than two-thirds of 10 to 17-year-olds and a quarter of six to nine-year-olds consuming energy drinks, they are likely contributing to both obesity and tooth decay.
Officials argue that excessive consumption has already been linked to health issues in children, from headaches and sleep problems to stomach aches and hyperactivity.
The death of Irish 18-year-old Ross Cooney in 2000, after he drank four cans during a basketball match, led to calls for more research.