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In the News

Government floats ban on energy drinks for under-18s

Geoff Riley

30th August 2018

If this change in law comes about, it will mark a potentially hugely significant intervention by the UK government. They are consulting about introducing a ban on under-18 buying drinks containing 150mg of caffeine or more per litre.

This is a good example of a command and control intervention that by-passes the price mechanism. Many supermarkets already operate their own restrictions on under-16s buying energy drinks, but inevitably there are ways around this including purchases by older teenagers being passed on and access to drinks from vending machines. The BBC reports that British youngsters are among the highest consumers of energy drinks in Europe.

Any policy intervention affects will have an impact on many different stakeholders both in the short and longer-term. It is a great issue for student economists to discuss. How many concepts can you bring into your analysis and evaluation?

Topics covered include:

  • Externalities from consumption
  • Information failures - are energy drinks rightly classified as de-merit goods?
  • Economics of small businesses
  • Health economics - including the long term impact on obesity, diabetes and tooth decay
  • Impact of energy drinks on economic and social well-being
  • Whether regulation is more effective than taxation and/or alternative interventions
  • Risks of government failure

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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