The Department of Health and Social Care has launched a consultation on proposals to end the sale of energy drinks to children.

The consultation proposes that a ban would apply to drinks (excluding tea and coffee) that contain more than 150mg of caffeine. Under existing labelling rules, drinks that fall into this category require a warning label saying: “High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience store retailers are already on the front line preventing the sale of age restricted products to children in a number of categories. We will respond to this consultation with evidence from members, and if the government sees fit to introduce a ban on energy drinks to children, we will work with retailers to ensure that they are prepared for the change.

“More than half of convenience stores currently do not sell energy drinks to under 16s, with many more working with their local schools and wider community to develop appropriate solutions when concerns are raised about the consumption of energy drinks by young people.”

ACS polled 1,210 independent retailers on their energy drink sales policies in January 2018, with 53% of convenience retailers reporting that they do not sell energy drinks to under 16s.

The consultation does not specify at what age the restriction should be enforced, but suggests either 16 or 18 years of age. The consultation notes that other countries that have ended the sale of energy drinks to children such as Latvia and Lithuania have introduced a restriction at 18, but that an age limit of 16 would be consistent with existing voluntary limits applied currently by some large retailers in the UK.

Under the current proposals, the ban would only apply in England, but the consultation notes that the government intends to work with devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure that the approach is aligned as closely as possible.