UCD ban sale of sugary drinks on campus – Should DCU follow suit?

Earlier this year, Ireland imposed a 30% tax-per-litre charge on sugary drinks, joining such countries as Mexico, the UK, and Canada in an attempt to tackle obesity and deter the food industry from increasing added sugar content. 

Since then, UCD have voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks on their campus. Though this has been a highly covered topic in the past week, UCD still avail of ‘diet’ and ‘zero calorie’ sugary drinks on campus.  

A group of students were surveyed to see whether the same ban should be introduced in DCU. In summary; 72% of participants said they would find the ban of sugary drinks sold on DCU’s campus annoying and inconvenient, followed by a 14% who would feel ‘indifferent’ and an equal 14% who would be happy about this change. 

Students had various arguments against this ban. Some of these arguments included: ‘Being tired in class as a result’ and ‘having to go elsewhere for such sugary drinks resulting in a decrease in college attendance if needs be’. 

However, the most common argument against the ban was that it is ‘inappropriate as most people are over 18 and can buy sugary drinks if they want to’. Students claimed that the ban wouldn’t necessarily have a negative impact on their college experience, but it would be annoying and inconvenient. If a ban similar to that of UCD’s was introduced in DCU, students said they would just travel further for the product. Students argue that as adults they should be allowed the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to their health and wellbeing. 

Third level education institutions tend to consider items to ban on campus frequently with their student unions; for example, Trinity College’s vote to become a tobacco free campus. With this in mind, DCU students were asked do they think any products should be banned on campus.  

30% of students surveyed said they’d like to see the ban of alcohol or cigarettes on campus, however the remaining 70% voted “No”.  

The same arguments came up again: that as adults “we should be given the choice of whether or not we consume potentially unhealthy products.” 

As of last year, DCU implemented a ban on single use plastics, which has received a widely positive reaction all round. Students seem to believe that this reaction is in part because there are preferable alternatives such as biodegradable cutlery, cups and straws. However, with no direct alternative, to ban the sale or consumption of alcohol, cigarettes or sugary drinks would simply shift the problem elsewhere.