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NASUWT pressure on energy drinks has led to six major supermarket chains announcing they will ban sales to children from March.

In what is a significant victory for the union's positive campainging and proactive media work over the last 18 months, public and consumer attitudes have hardened towards the drinks which contain high levels of stimulants and sugar.

The public-awareness campaigning even caught the attention of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has has been the highest-profile figure to come out and support the campaign.

Waitrose were the first big supermarket chain to announce a ban at the start of the year and this has been followed by Aldi, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons and Tesco. Just the Co-op and Lidl are the remaining major chains to have so far failed to ban sales to under-16s.

The NASUWT has been at the forefront of the coverage of these announcements on BBC Radio and BBC Online. There has been plenty of coverage of our position in the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Guardian, Mirror and Sun as well as regional newspapers across the UK.

The Union has been responding to the concerns of teachers that the drinks, which can contain as much caffiene as nearly two cups of coffee, are altering children's behaviour and having an impact on teaching and learning.

Some 13% of teachers who responded to the NASUWT Annual Big Question Survey 2017 cited energy drinks as a key cause of poor pupil behaviour in schools.

When the issues first came to light the NASUWT worked with the drug and alcohol charity Swanswell to produce information to raise awareness among parents, pupils and teachers of the high levels of stimulants which energy drinks contain and their potential impact on children’s behaviour and health.

The NASUWT produced a guide on energy drinks for parents and teachers containing advice and suggestions on how to tackle the issue.

This was followed by campaigning work and media appearances on broadcast media to highlight the problems teachers were telling us were taking place in classrooms.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT has welcomed the moves by the big retailers to ban sales of what she calls "readily-available legal highs". 

She has said of the drinks:

"The ready availability and pocket money prices of many of these drinks are undoubtedly part of the reason why so many pupils are consuming them before and during the school day.

“Teachers are left to deal with the effects these stimulants have on pupil behaviour.

“There is a chronic lack of awareness about the effects of these drinks which many pupils and parents think are just another soft drink.”

"Action is needed to regulate the sale of these drinks, which are effectively readily available legal highs."

The NASUWT will continue to campaign and hope Lidl, Co-op and others will join the ban.

The union is continuing to call for clearer labelling and independent research by governments to look at the implications and long-term health effects of stimulants such as caffeine on children.

 

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