Poland bans sale of energy drinks to under-18s

People aged under 18 will be prohibited from buying energy drinks in Poland, after President Andrzej Duda signed into law a ban proposed by the sports minister in February and approved by parliament last week.

The law, which goes into force at the start of 2024, defines an energy drink as a beverage containing over 150mg/l of caffeine or taurine, excluding products where those substances occur naturally.

It requires producers or importers of such beverages to include on their packaging clear, visible labelling indicating that they are energy drinks. Those who fail to do so can be fined up to 200,000 zloty (€44,677)

A vendor that sells such products to minors can be fined up to 2,000 zloty (€447). If sellers have doubts about a customer’s age, they can demand to see an identity document in the same manner as with sales of alcohol or tobacco products. The sale of energy drinks in vending machines will be banned completely.

Prezydent Andrzej Duda podpisał nowelę, która wprowadza zakaz sprzedaży napojów z dodatkiem tauryny i kofeiny niepełnoletnim.https://t.co/n1a7xWB414

— TVN24 BiS (@TVN24BiS) August 23, 2023

The original legislation also included a ban on most types of advertising of energy drinks. However, those elements were removed during parliamentary work on the bill.

When proposing the law, sports minister Kamil Bortniczuk described energy drinks as “a bit like a drug wrapped in candy”. He noted that “a litre bottle costing a few zlotys at a discount store provides as much caffeine as 6-8 cups of black coffee”.

The ban has also been supported by some medical groups and by Poland’s spokesman for children’s rights, Mikołaj Pawlik, who yesterday thanked the president for signing it into law.

Dziękuję @prezydentpl @AndrzejDuda za ten podpis. Mój apel został wysłuchany i groźne dla zdrowia dzieci „napoje energetyczne” nie będą już dla nich dostępne.

👉 https://t.co/zsryfsHlhs https://t.co/kfrdMYbbMk

— Rzecznik Praw Dziecka (@RPDPawlak) August 23, 2023

Poland’s neighbour Lithuania became the first EU member state to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors, doing so in 2014. Another Baltic state, Latvia, followed suit in 2016.

In 2019, the British government announced plans to ban the sale of energy drinks to those aged under 16. However, it still has not done so. In June this year, the Scottish government announced it would also not pursue its own proposed ban.

Since 2016, most major supermarkets in the UK have signed up to a voluntary ban on selling energy drinks to under-16s.

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Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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