Should you have to be 18 to buy energy drinks?

Some people have suggested raising the age people can buy energy drinks from 16 to 18. Photo: Archan

Some people have suggested raising the age people can buy energy drinks from 16 to 18. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant Norfolk 2010

Teachers and campaign group the Children's Food Campaign (CFC), alongside TV chef Jamie Oliver, are campaigning for the legal sale of energy drinks to be set at 18 rather than 16, in order to help schools address behavioural issues within the classroom linked to drinking high levels of caffeinated drinks.

Youngsters in the UK are amongst the highest energy drink consumers in Europe, consuming on average 50% more than other European countries.

An online survey conducted by CFC stated that 97% of teachers supported introducing a ban on sales of the drinks to children and young people. Whilst 64% said that their schools neither sold nor allowed the consumption of energy drinks on site, young people still bought and drank them on their way to and from school – or smuggled them into schoolbags.

Many supermarkets have already voluntarily imposed the under 16 ban, but with convenience stores still selling them and children accessing them from vending machines, an under 18 ban is favoured.

The government supports a ban on sales to teenagers and a consultation closes this week, after which the proposed age limit will be determined.

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We sought the views of people in Norwich city centre.

Vanessa Blackburn, 43, of Norwich, said: 'I strongly support the idea of the ban of sales of energy drinks for those under 18.' She said she had seen a significant change in personality and behaviour of family members who use energy drinks, describing how they have almost become dependent upon them to function in day to day life. She added: 'I personally believe it doesn't go far enough and that the government should ban energy drinks altogether.'

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Harley Swan, 17, from Thetford, also supported a ban of sales of energy drinks to under 18's and said: 'In order to make the legislation more effective, I believe the amount of caffeine within each drink should be reduced, alongside adequate labelling of the health risks and the effects energy drinks have on your body.'

Lewis Barham, 23, from Great Yarmouth, said: 'Energy drinks should be banned altogether due to more and more individuals becoming over reliant and over time becoming addicted. The government should start addressing energy drink issues the same as they do with alcohol.'

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