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South Korea bans coffee in schools — even among teachers

South Korea will introduce a new law banning the sale of coffee in schools across the country in a bid to keep students from consuming too much caffeine.

The ban will apply across school premises, meaning everyone — including teachers — will be unable to buy caffeinated drinks.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety hopes the ban will help children foster healthier food habits after cases of students consuming excess levels of caffeine during exam periods, with children often facing intense academic pressure, an official from the ministry told CNN.

Other beverages with high concentrations of caffeine, such as energy drinks, are already banned in schools.

A 2012 survey of more than 5,400 middle and high school students found that 19% consumed one or more cups of coffee each day, with more than half saying they drank some form of caffeinated drink to wake up, despite being aware of the harms of consuming too much caffeine.

The study stated that “middle and high school students are aware of the dangers of caffeine but are still in the reality where they must consume it. This shows that educating the students on the dangers of caffeine abuse alone cannot prevent them from harming themselves.”

The findings were supported by lawmaker Kim Sang-hee of the Minjoo party, who since proposed the bill to ban the sale of caffeine, which has now been made law and will come into effect on September 14.

However, critics note that students can easily walk a few minutes from their schools to buy coffee or other caffeinated drinks.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, caffeine has been linked to some harmful health effects in children, including on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. They add that, in general, children should avoid caffeine-containing beverages, including soda.