The Welsh government is considering stopping the sale of tea and coffee to under-16s as part of a wider ban on energy drinks.
A consultation on the proposal to end the sale of energy drinks to children also asks respondents whether the ban “should be widened to consider other drinks typically high in caffeine, such as tea and coffee.”
The government is looking to ban energy drinks as part of its healthy eating strategy, though admits in the consultation it is “difficult to demonstrate cause and effect” between energy drink consumption and poor health outcomes.
The UK government consulted on an energy drinks sales ban for under-16s in England in 2018 and announced it would enact measures in 2019, though they have yet to be implemented. That consultation made it clear that tea and coffee would remain exempt.
The government estimated the then-cost to business of the ban to be £115m.
The ministerial foreword to the Welsh consultation states “energy drinks contain, on average, similar levels of caffeine to a double shot of espresso.”
Under current rules all drinks except tea and coffee which contain more than 150mg of caffeine must carry a warning, and more than one in five UK retailers have put in place voluntary restrictions on under-16s buying energy drinks.
The consultation does say the government does not “expect” to include tea and coffee in the proposal but the presence of the question suggests it has been considered as part of the policy development.
Alongside the consultation, Wales’ deputy minister for mental health, Lynne Neagle said: “We want to hear people’s views on how we can support the nation to be healthier and to reduce the number of people who are obese or overweight. Often, foods that are sugary or high in fat or salt are more readily available and promoted, making it harder for people to make the healthy choice.”