Energy Drink Ban: Middlebury College Forbids Sale Of Energy Drinks, Claims They Lead To ‘High-Risk Sexual Activity’

Middlebury College is putting a stop to energy drinks on campus, banning the sale of the caffeine-filled supplements on campus and claiming they are linked to “problematic behavior” and “high-risk sexual activity.”

The Vermont college said ]beginning March 7 they will ban the sale of all so-called energy drinks on campus. This includes Red Bull and 5-Hour ENERGY, the The Middlebury Campus reported.

The decision to ban energy drinks dates back to January, when a staff member brought it up during a community council meeting. There was agreement among school leaders that the sale of energy drinks on campus violated the mission of the college’s dining services, which is to “nourish and nurture today and tomorrow by sustaining mind, body and earth.”

There was some pushback to the idea, the school’s newspaper reported.

“Opposition to this proposal in Community Council debate came mainly from students who believed the removal of energy drinks from campus shelves would violate a student’s right to choose what beverages they consume. Charles Rainey ’19 voiced his concern that this measure would lead to Dining Services ‘controlling what people consume,’ and argued that he and others drink energy drinks responsibly, adding that the removal of the drinks from campus stores was too extreme a means of promoting student well-being.”

Others took issue with the emphasis Middlebury College chose to take in announcing the energy drink ban. College officials warned that these drinks lead to “problematic behavior,” like alcohol abuse and “high-risk sexual activity,” NBC News reported.

A prominent flyer in the college’s Wilson Cafe states, “Energy drink consumption facilitates unhealthy work habits such as prolonged periods of sleeplessness, contributing to a campus culture of stress and unsustainable study habits.”

“Energy drink consumption facilitates unhealthy work habits such as prolonged periods of sleeplessness, contributing to a campus culture of stress and unsustainable study habits,” read a flyer distributed by school officials.

Middlebury College isn’t the only campus to call for a ban on energy drinks. A study published last year by a consumer advocacy group found that these drinks can be harmful to kids and adolescents and said these products should not be sold or marketed to children under 18.

“Something needs to be done to reduce the dangers of these products to children,” Jennifer Harris, a co-author of the study and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, told USA Today. “Companies say these products are safe to market and sell to children as young as 12, but the evidence says otherwise.”

The study found that kids who drink these drinks suffer health, social, emotional, and behavioral problems, and that the use of energy drinks is becoming more prevalent.

“Energy drink sales continue to explode in the U.S. and globally. The global energy drink industry leaped to about $27.5 billion last year from about $3.8 billion in 1999, reports Euromonitor, a market research specialist. Within the beverage industry, where soft drink sales continue to decline, much of the growth comes from energy drinks.

“Sales of energy drinks jumped 53% between 2007 and 2012, according to the study, which claims to be the first to fully examine existing research, particularly on the marketing of energy drinks to youth under 18. Energy drink brands spent $282 million in advertising in all media in 2012, about 2.5 times the amount spent in 2008, the study notes.”

Other places are already taking action. In Latvia, sales of energy drinks are now restricted to people over 18.

The energy drink ban at Middlebury College won’t stop students from sipping on a Red Bull if they really want to. The measure only prohibits the university from selling energy drinks in campus stores and cafeterias, but doesn’t prohibit students from drinking them.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]