The Government has published a Command Paper banning the sale of energy drinks to those aged under 16.
The initiative was announced by the Minister for Health, Neil Costa, and the Minister for Public Health, John Cortes, during a public health event over the weekend.
The CHAMP [Children, Healthy and Active! Multi-agency Programme] event aimed to reduce childhood obesity as well as raise awareness of a healthy lifestyle.
To demonstrate its “unwavering support” towards the public health initiative launched by CHAMP the Government decided to publish a command paper on the banning of the sale of energy drinks to under 16-year olds.
Energy drinks under the draft Command Paper are listed as a drink other than tea or coffee which contains over 150 milligrams of caffeine per litre.
The Command Paper sets out that any person caught selling energy drinks to those aged under 16 would be liable to be fined and shops selling these drinks must display a notice stating ‘it is illegal to sell energy drinks to anyone under the age of 16’.
The Command Paper also sets out the prohibition of energy drinks to be sold in vending machines.
“I have been a very keen supporter of this programme since the very first time Dr Annie Dai, brimming with her usual enthusiasm and joy, briefed me on this excellent initiative,” Mr Costa said.
“The work CHAMP is doing cannot be underestimated. CHAMP is already proving to be beneficial, and I am confident that the long-term effects will be even more valuable. It is important that we teach our children about the importance of keeping active, eating healthily and leading healthy lifestyles and how making the right choices will be beneficial to their health throughout their lives.”
Mr Costa thanked the team at CHAMP and Dr Cortes for their work in ensuring this initiative came to fruition.
These drinks have been associated with serious adverse health effects, such as, diabetes, mood and behavioural issues and are also proven to contribute towards tooth decay.
“It’s a real pleasure to once again work with my friend and colleague Neil Costa on this initiative,” said Dr Cortes.
“CHAMP is clearly showing the value of good old-fashioned teamwork. A great deal of progress is being made in this vitally important area of child health thanks to the joint efforts of many professionals. The Government wants to make a real positive difference to the health of young people.”
“We led the way in creating smoke-free environments, which have benefited the whole community, and our legislating to control access to high energy drinks once again shows our commitment to real progress. And there will be more to come”
The GSD welcomed the commitment from Government to regulate energy drinks for under 16’s, adding that the increase in dependency of these drinks amongst children is “palpable and obvious”.
“This is an excellent move by Government which must be welcomed by all,” said Shadow Minister for Health and Care Lawrence Llamas.
“I have been concerned about this for some time after seeing young adults becoming more and more dependent on energy drinks with many seen drinking these on their way to school during their lunch breaks. Aside from the health implications, we must also educate and empower children to confront their lives without supplements. The emphasis and focus should be on promoting policies which stimulate stronger minds and healthier lifestyles.”
The consumption of energy drinks has been reported to be particularly detrimental to a child’s health, frequently containing high and unregulated amounts of caffeine, the Government said in a statement.
Last Saturday as part of CHAMPs winter phase the initiative engaged children in fun educational games such as a treasure hunt and quizzes.
The event aimed to educate children about what healthy choices they should be making in daily life.
“Gibraltar is a wonderful home to us all, and as a caring and responsible community, it is down to all of us to make sure that our children grow up to be healthy, happy and productive individuals,” said Dr Annie Dai, Consultant Paediatrician and Clinical Lead of the GHA’s Paediatric Service.
“We must lead by example and provide opportunities to the next generation to live healthily. It is only through investing our time and effort wisely and wholeheartedly this way that we can secure our children’s future, and hence Gibraltar’s future.”
“CHAMP is here to help in the challenging work of making healthy choices the easy choices for children and their families in Gibraltar. After all, healthy children mean a happy future.”