A government consultation to ban energy drinks sold to children in convenience stores has created a divide among independent retailers.

The consultation, which closes on 21 November, suggests prohibiting drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre to under-18s or under-16s. Brands at risk include Red Bull, Monster and Boost.

Ferhan Ashiq, of Levenhall Village Store in Musselburgh, told RN he would prefer self-regulation. “If we’re regulated, an offence counts as a crime and the penalties could be harsh.

“I operate a strict no-under-16s policy. I’m not saying we don’t make mistakes, but we impose it as much as possible. The last thing I want is a mother shouting at me because her kids are high on energy drinks. Retailers worried about losing sales can offset declines with categories such as food to go.”

Ken Singh, of Boghar Bros Stores in Pontefract, added: “This is bad for retailers – the government is imposing too many regulations. Who’s to say products such as chocolate won’t soon be regulated as a result of this?”

Arif Ahmed, of Ahmed Newsagents in Coventry, raised concerns about a rise in antisocial behaviour. “We might see an increase in theft or agitation if customers can’t buy energy drinks.”

However, Anita Nye, of Premier Eldred Drive Stores in Orpington, said legal regulation would level the playing field. “I have a voluntary ban in my store and official regulation can create balance. There are businesses nearby that don’t regulate who they sell energy drinks to.”

Aman Uppal, of One Stop Mount Nod in Coventry, added: “I’d want to see the government think of ways to help identify 16-year-olds. They’re not going to carry a passport with them. An under-18s ban would be ridiculous. Energy drinks do impact health, but not to the same extent as alcohol or cigarettes.”

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