Saturday, 01 Nov 2014

Energy drink ban

The debate about the possible harmful side effects of energy drinks on teens and young people (and what to do about it) continues not just in Australia, but around the world.

Lithuania has become the first country in the European Union to ban highly caffeinated beverages being sold to people under the age of 18. The legislation was approved overwhelmingly by the Lithuanian parliament.

The ban will take effect In November 2014. The ban extends to non-alcoholic beverages containing more than 150 milligrams per litre of caffeine. It also applies to beverages containing a range of stimulants like guarana, ginsenosides, glucuronolactone and taurine.

While considering the measure, the Baltic state’s government cited health concerns, stating that a high concentration of caffeine may lead to addiction and hyperactivity. Citing scientists, the parliamentarians also stressed that it may encourage youngsters to try drugs.

But there are also critics of the new legislation. "It is wrong to think that these restrictions could be conducive to improving business conditions. It will trigger significant chaos and huge costs," said liberal lawmaker Eugenijus Gentvilas.

Some critics have also pointed out an ironic oversight in the legislation. The new law doesn't actually apply to coffee itself. This means that a person under 18 can legally buy a coffee, but not an energy drink.

The issue of banning energy drink sales to minors is also gathering traction in the US. A number of American cities and states, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Kentucky and Maryland are also considering a ban on energy drinks. So far, no bans have been legislated, but it may only be a matter of time.

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