Energy debate on the agenda

Call for voluntary ban on sales to kids

Ferhan Ashiq
Ferhan Ashiq was narrowly defeated in a vote to ban energy drinks sales for children under 16

A distinctly Scottish voice took to the platform at this year’s NFRN conference in Torquay, calling for a voluntary ban on the sale of energy drinks to under 16s.

Ferhan Ashiq who operates Day-Today in Prestonpans put forward the motion that members should adopt a voluntary ban, only to be narrowly defeated in the final vote by 50.8% to 49.2%.

The NFRN’s Scottish Council passed a similar motion in March and Ferhan said that despite the defeat, some retailers in attendance at the Torquay conference were so positive about the idea they may adopt a voluntary ban for their own store.

Ferhan said he supports a ban because of evidence that points to negative health consequences for children when they consume energy drinks.

“The evidence is there that these drinks are bad for children and my motion was very specific that the ban should apply to those drinks that already carry the wording – in  very small print – that they are not suitable for children,” he said

Ferhan added that he sees this as a community issue and as such, community retailers should take action to help alleviate the problem. He also suggested it might be wise for retailers to get ahead of the issue before government gets involved.

“Although we are willing to follow this voluntary ban, we should also follow the example of the banks. When they know there is legislation on its way they get ahead of it with their own measures,” he said.

In Scotland, the NFRN has been in dialogue with the Scottish Government on the issue and  Ferhan reckons it’s a concern that is taken seriously at Holyrood.

When the Scottish chapter of the NFRN voted to adopt a voluntary ban, Angus South MSP Graeme Dey publicly welcomed the decision. Dey also welcomed the NFRN to Holyrood in April for a parliamentary reception.

• In other business at the NFRN’s annual conference, Mike Mitchelson of the Carlisle and Cumbria branch was confirmed as national president for the coming year, leading the federation into its centenary year in 2019.

Stuart Reddish from Sheffield was elected vice president and Muntazir Dipoti of East Lancashire was elected to the post of deputy vice president.