Retailers are divided following a call by Nisa sales director Steve Leach for a legal ban on sales of energy drinks to children younger than 16 years old.

Supermarkets including Waitrose, Lidl, Asda, Aldi and Tesco are already set to restrict under-16s from buying soft drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre from March.

These voluntary restrictions were triggered by government health concerns.

But Mr Leach said they would be too hard to enforce. “A ban would ensure a level playing field for all retailers. We’ve advised members not to sell energy drinks to under-16s, but it’s difficult to enforce as our retailers are all independent. It’s the owner’s decision,” said Mr Leach.

Holly Patel, of Molly’s Nisa in Luton, operates similar restrictions and would welcome a ban.

However, Rav Garcha, of Nisa Hockley in Birmingham, argued a ban would make issues relating to
the sugar levy in April worse.

“I’m figuring out how to make my range fit the levy. A ban wouldn’t make things easier. Energy drinks make up half my drinks sales,” he said.