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Boots joins major UK supermarkets in ban on energy drinks sales to under 16s

Most of Britain’s major supermarkets – and now Boots – have banned the sale of high caffeine energy drinks to under-16s (Getty Images)

Boots has become the latest big high street name to ban sales of energy drinks to children under 16.

Most major supermarkets, including the likes of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, have or will stop selling the high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks to schoolchildren.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who led the #NotForChildren campaign, welcomed the news and said on Twitter that supermarkets that had “done the right thing”.

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A Boots spokesperson said: “Helping our customers to live healthier lives has always been our core purpose.

“We have listened to the growing public concern about young people consuming these high sugar and highly-caffeinated drinks.”

Customers buying drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre in branches of Asda, Aldi, the Co-op, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose will be asked to prove they are over 16.

Waitrose was the first to announce a voluntary ban, in January. Tesco’s ban comes into effect from March 26.

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Compulsory health warnings on cans such as Red Bull, Monster Energy and Rockstar read: “High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women or persons sensitive to caffeine.”

Chef Jamie Oliver tweeted his delight at Boots and others signing up to the voluntary ban (REUTERS/Ruben Sprich)

However, they have become increasingly popular with teenagers with teachers warning that pupils were turning up to school “wired” from consuming them on the way in.

Darren Northcott, NASUWT union’s national official for education, last year described the drinks as “legal highs” that helped to fuel bad behaviour in schools.

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Andrew Murray, Asda’s chief customer officer, said when it announced its ban: “We take our responsibilities as a retailer seriously and work hard to ensure we get the balance right between offering choice and doing the right thing.

“We have listened to our customers and want to take a leading position in this area to support parents and teachers in limiting young peoples’ access to high-caffeine drinks.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his autumn Budget that a sugar tax will be imposed on fizzy drinks from April.

The  tax will apply to drinks with more than five grams of sugar per 100ml will be levied by 18p per litre, while those with eight grams or more of sugar per 100ml will have an extra tax of 24p per litre.