On Thursday, 21 January, the Saeima adopted in the final reading the Law on the Sale of Energy Drinks, which imposes a ban on the sale of energy drinks to individuals under the age of 18. The prohibition to sell energy drinks to minors will come into effect as of 1 June. The law was adopted with 88 votes for, two votes against and one abstention.
“The global consumption of energy drinks among children and youth has increased. Adoption of this law is a decisive move towards improving the health of children and youth. Our goal is to ensure that our children get the healthiest products available. Youngsters under the age of 18 will no longer be allowed to buy and retailers will be prohibited to sell them energy drinks”, explains Romāns Naudiņš, Chair of the Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee, which was responsible for the drafting of the law.
According to the Law, retailers will be obliged to verify customers’ age by means of an identification document, while customers will be obliged to present a document attesting their age and identity upon request of a retailer or supervisory and monitoring body.
Energy drinks sold in retail shops will have to be placed on separate shelves so that they can be easily identified. Retailers will also be obliged to post an informative sign regarding the high concentration of caffeine in energy drinks and their potentially negative impact on pregnant and breast-feeding women in particular.
The aim of the Law is to protect people from the harmful effects of energy drinks on health and the human body. Energy drinks belong to a segment of non-alcoholic beverages to be consumed as manufactured. Energy drinks contain more than 150 mg of caffeine per litre, as well as one or several other stimulants or other energising substances like taurine, inositol, guarana group alkaloids and ginkgo biloba.
According to a 2015 publication by the European Food Safety Authority, over the last year children aged 10 to 18 have become the main consumers of energy drinks. 41% of them have been using energy drinks to enhance their athletic performance or in combination with alcoholic beverages. All energy drinks contain large quantities of caffeine, high dosages of which, when consumed at once, may cause behavioural changes in youngsters. As Guntis Belēvičs, Minister of Health, has previously pointed out, the Ministry of Health has also received complaints from parents about energy drinks being aggressively marketed to children under the age of 18.
The new Law also prohibits the sale of energy drinks in the premises or territory of educational institutions. It also prohibits offering energy drinks to persons under the age of 18 for free or as a gift, or bonus, for purchase of other services and goods.
The Law also aims to regulate the information included in advertisements of energy drinks by supplementing advertisements with warnings on the negative effects of excessive consumption, and it will specify the design and layout of such information and introduce advertising restrictions. Advertisements of energy drinks will be banned from digital media targeting minors under the age of 18. Energy drink advertisements will not be allowed to make any references to sporting activities, individual or group health regimen, thirst quenching properties or mixing of energy drinks with alcohol.
The Law on the Sale of Energy Drinks is based on the Public Health Guidelines. According to experts who elaborated the Law, its goal is to regulate the sale and advertising of the product and impose a ban on sale of energy drinks to individuals under the age of 18 to protect their heath.
Saeima Press Service