Ending the sale of energy drinks to children and young people: consultation

We are seeking views on whether there is a need to take mandatory action to ban the sale of energy drinks to children and young people.

2. Mandatory Measures

1. The aim of this consultation is to inform our consideration of whether there is sufficient cause and evidence to support mandatory measures to end the sale of energy drinks to young people. If so, responses will also inform what those measures should be. The intention of any intervention would be to reduce potential health and wellbeing risks of energy drink consumption by young people in Scotland.

2. Research demonstrates that many young people have limited understanding of the ingredients in energy drinks[20]. Stronger restrictions around the sales of energy drinks would send a clear message to young people, parents and carers that these drinks are not suitable for young people.

Current policy

3. The provision of energy drinks to pupils is not permitted in schools in Scotland[21]. All shops on NHS sites are also required to prohibit the sale of energy drinks to under 16s[22].

4. The 1,300 facilities run by Scottish members of Community Leisure UK have restricted energy drink sales on their premises. These measures include either age restrictions of 16 or an outright ban on sales, including from vending machines. Local authorities have adopted similar restrictions in the facilities they manage.

5. We have welcomed the leadership shown by many retailers in prohibiting sales of energy drinks to under 16s. The UK Government estimate that around 21% of grocery stores have implemented voluntary age restrictions[23]. This equates to 12,580 stores[24]. Based on UK population estimates[25], a Scottish share of this would equate to approximately 1,030 locations in Scotland.

6. Of the convenience store businesses not included in the above list, the UK Government assumes that 50% also impose voluntary restrictions[26]. For Scotland, this would equate to approximately 1,960 convenience stores.

7. Given that the voluntary restrictions have been in place for over a year, we do not expect much more uptake in the future. Making the restrictions mandatory would create a level playing field for businesses across Scotland.

8. We are looking into whether enshrining a mandatory age restriction in legislation is an appropriate measure. We ask for further evidence to help inform any decisions we make. We have so far considered that:

  • the voluntary ban, industry guidance and labelling requirements all currently use age 16 as the upper limit
  • the UK Government intends to ban sales to under 16s in England and an aligned approach in Scotland would be preferable
  • the recommended daily limit of caffeine consumption is dependent on bodyweight and, for young people, weight generally increases with age
  • energy drink consumption tends to increase with age, with older adolescents (aged 15 - 17) 1.33 times more likely to consume energy drinks than younger adolescents (aged 10 - 14)[27]
  • the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that energy drinks are not appropriate for young people under the age of 18[28].

Question 1: Should sales of energy drinks to young people under the age of 16 be banned?

  • Yes
  • No - the mandatory age limit should be 18
  • No - there should be no mandatory age restrictions
  • Unsure
  • Other (please specify)

Please describe any factors you have taken into consideration and provide any evidence you have to support a specific age restriction.


Email: DietPolicy@gov.scot

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