I avoid caffeine like blind people avoid silent films. It does mean things to me. My eyelids twitch. My gut dances. My heart jumps rope. It basically becomes field day for my organs and appendages. It isn’t fun. On a different note, I am not a teenager anymore. I left those awkward teen years behind me several years ago. These two things are actually related.
I was at ICA, you know, your friendly neighborhood grocery store here in Sweden, purchasing what was to become my dinner. Two microwave calzone-like-ish things filled with taco-like-ish meat. I topped my grocery bag (which I of course brought to the store myself) with some potato chips and 1.5 liters of milk. Why yes, as a matter of fact, I do live alone. Is it that obvious?
What I purchased though isn’t nearly as interesting as the little sign on the cash register. I glanced at it, thinking it was the typical, if you look young and want to buy cigarettes or snus, be ready to show ID. I don’t buy either so wasn’t all that concerned. But something caught my eye. Fifteen. They were checking ID on 15 year olds. Not because they are allowed to buy tobacco. They aren’t. But because they might want to buy energy drinks.
ICA is checking ID for energy drink sales. If you are under the age of 15, you can’t buy a Red Bull. Because I don’t drink caffeine, please see above for reasons I don’t like feeling like I was sucker punched by Manny Pacquiao, and because I am no longer a teenager (I told you they were related. Never doubt me.) I haven’t been keeping up on the energy drink debate.
A quick search for “energidryck” on SVD.se confirms my lack of interest in the subject. Turns out there has been a debate going on about this. A couple of months ago, 7-Eleven and Pressbyrån, decided to implement the 15 year old age limit. Since then, ICA seems to have followed suit along with a couple of other grocery store chains.
Just recently, a survey of 700 school nurses reported that about 80% wanted an age limit. And many of them wanted the age limit to be 18. The age of consent in this country is 15. Meaning that some nurses believe drinking an energy drink could be potentially more dangerous than having sex. I suppose putting a condom on a can of Red Bull might not have the desired effect, but I just don’t really understand the line of reasoning there.
What really gets me is the self-imposed legislation on caffeinated beverages. You can overdose on caffeine in plenty of different ways. A couple shots of espresso will do you in in no time. But Wayne’s Coffee doesn’t have a little sign on the cash register asking people to show their ID before buying an espresso. Here in Sweden though, companies are actively discouraging people from purchasing a product because they are unable to monitor their intake on their own. Kind of like Systembolaget.
It turns out this discussion is being had in the US also. Which is just as ridiculous as having it here. But here’s an idea, let kids overdose on caffeine. At some point, you kind of just have to accept your fate when you continue to drink highly caffeinated drinks after breaking out into a cold sweat with serious heart palpitations and anxiety attacks. Legislation can’t fix stupid.
Welcome to Sweden.