Primary- and middle school principals from across the city of Turku were unanimous in their decision to ban energy drinks in their schools, a proposal initially put forward by the city's education committee.
The measure was gaveled through at a meeting of the committee on Wednesday evening, and the ban will now be written into school regulations.
”My proposal gained the support of 12 of the 13 committee members,” said Mari-Elina Koivusalo, vice-chair of the city's education committee.
The committee said that even though foodstuffs legislation does not allow for curtailing the sale of energy drinks to children and youngsters, some schools had already opted to limit the drinks on school premises.
The committee said it hoped other schools in Finland would follow suit to support children's health and learning.
Schools expect positive effects
Koivusalo said energy drink use is prevalent among pupils, contributing to sleeping and concentration problems as well as preventing students from completing schoolwork.
"The side effects are known, but unfortunately no legislation has been passed on the drinks,” she explained.
Koivusalo said the idea for her proposal came from Jarmo Salo, a principal at Syvälahti school in Turku.
”He said the voluntary ban had good results and regretted that the measure hadn’t been picked up in all of the city’s schools.”
Food safety watchdog: Energy drinks not for kids
Energy drinks are laden with caffeine, which is why they carry labels warning that they are not suitable for children. The Finnish Food Safety Authority (Evira) has said that due to their caffeine content, energy drinks are not recommended for children, as even a small amount of caffeine may cause agitation, irritability, tension and restlessness.
Earlier this year, Yle reported that energy drinks are responsible for growing numbers of underage people being admitted to hospital in Finland for guzzling too many of the highly-caffeinated beverages.
The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and National Nutrition Council has recommended that retailers only sell the drinks to people over the age of 15.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä and Annika Saarikko, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, have commissioned a report looking into whether an energy drink ban for under-15s could be written into law. The report is expected to be issued later this autumn.