On Saturday, Lithuania became the first country in the EU to ban the selling of energy drinks to anyone under the age of 18, according to the Agence France-Presse.
The law, which was first adopted by Lithuania’s parliament back in May, will make selling to minors punishable by a fine of up to 400 litas (or roughly $US150).
“It’s a revolutionary development the world over: We didn’t find a single other country to have this kind of ban,” health ministry official Almantas Kranauskas told Agence France-Presse. “Most countries only have recommendations. We are the first.”
The Baltic state placed the ban in reaction to research showing how popular energy drinks were among minors. In 2013, a study by the European Food Safety Authority found that 68% of European youths aged 10 to 18 years old were drinking them. In Lithuania alone, the AFP reports that roughly 10% of school-aged children say they consume energy drinks at least once a week.
Numerous studies have pointed out the risks posed by the consumption of energy drinks, especially by adolescents. Heavy consumption of energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster have been linked to heart problems, depression, hypertension, convulsions, and palpitations. The World Health Organisation has even warned that energy drinks could cause a public health problem if their use among young people is not addressed.
Lithuania is the first European country to enact this kind of ban, but the United Arab Emirates banned the sale of energy drinks for children under the age of 16 in 2012. The UAE was even considering raising the age limit to 20 years old in September, according to World.Mic.
There have been similar efforts in the US and Europe to regulate minors’ consumption of energy drinks, but none as bold as Lithuania’s ban. The Baltic state hopes to set an example for other countries to follow suit.
“We hope that some countries of the EU that don’t have a clear position will follow the Lithuanian way,” Kranauskas told the Wall Street Journal.