UNH delays decision to ban sale of energy drinks on campus

By Zack Cox
On September 27, 2011

  • The UNH Art Gallery is now featuring an exhibit by Boston artist Bridget Lynch who has re-interpreted the words of satirical artist William ogarth. One of her works is shown above. Courtesy Photo

 

After originally announcing Monday night that UNH would discontinue sales of energy drinks in all on-campus locations and vending machines beginning in 2012, UNH President Mark Huddleston has decided to delay the decision until further data can be collected.  

In a press release, Huddleston cited inconsistent research on the dangers of energy drink consumption, as well as a harsh student backlash to the ban as primary reasons for the delay. 

"I respect the efforts of the staff in UNH Dining to present the healthiest possible choices in our food service and vending locations," Huddleston said. "In this case, I am personally aware of conflicting reports about the caffeine and sugar content of some of these beverages, and I want to be sure we respect our students' ability to make informed choices about what they consume. I have asked my colleagues to defer implementation of the intended ban until we can further explore the relevant facts and involve students more directly in our decision."

UNH Dining's original decision to ban the sale of energy drinks was based primarily on the dangers of students mixing the drinks with alcohol, as well as the inherent risks of excessive caffeine consumption.

Last spring's New Hampshire Higher Education Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Survey found that 20 percent of students surveyed reported mixing energy drinks with alcohol in the past month. 

Red Bull, the most prominent energy drink manufacturer with over 4 billion cans sold worldwide in 2010, released a statement defending its product shortly after the original ban was first announced.

"[Our] drinks have a similar caffeine content as coffee and do not contain alcohol," the company wrote in a release to the Associated Press. "Since it would not be right to ban the sale of soda, coffee, or tea on a college campus, it's also inappropriate and unwarranted to single out and restrict the sale of energy drinks. We are working with the University of New Hampshire to find a resolution."

Even if the ban does eventually come into effect, some students doubt whether it will have a noticeable impact on drinking habits.

"Well, I'm sure [students] are going to do it anyway," junior communication major Peter Hoffman said. "If they want to drink [alcohol] with Red Bull they'll go down to a convenience store like CampCo or Store 24. It's cheaper there anyway, so I'm sure they will be going other places."

Huddleston stated that further research into the subject is required before a final decision on the ban can be made.


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