Sales of energy drinks to young people below age 16 could be banned under Scottish Government proposals just put out to consultation.

Ministers are seeking views on whether mandatory action is needed to help reduce overconsumption of these drinks and the associated health harms. The UK Government also recently consulted on introducing a ban in England, and age restrictions are already in force in certain European countries including Sweden.

Health hazards include the high levels of sugar found in many energy drinks, harm to oral health due to their acidic nature, and in particular their high caffeine content and the detrimental impact this can have on the quality of young people's sleep and therefore on their physical and mental health. The proposed definition of "energy drink" is any drink, other than tea or coffee, which contains over 150mg of caffeine per litre.

Recent research commissioned by the UK Government suggests that up to 33% of young people under 17 in the UK report frequent or heavy use of energy drinks, with 11% consuming them on a daily basis.

Among the questions posed are:

  • whether mandatory action is needed to protect the health of young people;
  • whether an age restriction of 16 is the most appropriate course of action;
  • whether there should be exemptions if a policy was implemented, for example for wholesale outlets, or vending machines in workplaces;
  • how an age restriction policy could best be enforced and monitored;
  • the impacts of implementing such a policy.

Responses will help inform an assessment of whether the proposed measures are proportionate and would deliver the beneficial outcomes intended.

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for responses is 4 February 2020.