President Andrzej Duda of Poland has signed a law that prohibits individuals under the age of 18 from purchasing energy drinks. The ban, initially proposed by the sports

minister in February and subsequently approved by the parliament last week, is set to take effect at the beginning of 2024.

According to the new law, an energy drink is defined as a beverage containing more than 150mg/l of caffeine or taurine, excluding products where these substances occur naturally. Producers or importers of such beverages are required to display clear and visible labeling on their packaging indicating that they are energy drinks. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to 200,000 zloty (€44,677).

Vendors found selling these products to minors can face fines of up to 2,000 zloty (€447). In cases where the seller is uncertain about the customer's age, they can request identification documents, similar to the protocols for selling alcohol or tobacco products. Furthermore, the sale of energy drinks through vending machines will be completely prohibited.

Initially, the legislation also encompassed a ban on various forms of energy drink advertising. However, these provisions were removed during the parliamentary deliberations.

Sports minister Kamil Bortniczuk, when introducing the law, likened energy drinks to "a bit like a drug wrapped in candy." He highlighted that a budget-friendly one-liter bottle from a discount store contains as much caffeine as 6-8 cups of black coffee.

The ban has garnered support from certain medical organizations and Mikołaj Pawlik, Poland's spokesperson for children's rights, who expressed gratitude to the president for enacting the legislation.

Lithuania, Poland's neighboring country, became the first EU member state to prohibit the sale of energy drinks to minors in 2014. Latvia, another Baltic state, followed suit in 2016.

While the British government announced intentions to ban the sale of energy drinks to those under 16 in 2019, it has yet to implement such measures. In June of this year, the Scottish government similarly decided not to pursue its own proposed ban.

Since 2016, most major UK supermarkets have voluntarily refrained from selling energy drinks to individuals under 16 years old. Photo by AlienFood, Wikimedia commons.