Manama: Shops in the Eastern Province city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia have been warned of a zero-tolerance policy if they fail to comply with strict restrictions on the sale of energy drinks.

In March, the Saudi government banned the sale of energy drinks at all cafeterias, eateries and food outlets at government establishments and institutions, public and private gyms and fitness and health clubs in the kingdom.

Under the decision, energy drinks sold in shops are to be kept separately from other drinks in fridges and shelves. A warning about the health hazards associated with the drinks should also be displayed in the area where they are sold.

Faris Al Araij, the head of Western Dammam Municipality, said that they were working on consolidating the measures and that the shops in the city had been told that those who do not comply with the restrictions will face legal action.

Special red stickers with bold warning messages have been given to the shops to display in a prominent way next to the energy drinks, he said, local daily Al Sharq reported on Tuesday.

Energy drinks are hazardous and drinking more than two cans a day can damage your health, the warnings say.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, people suffering from heart problems, blood pressure and diabetes, people who are allergic to caffeine and children under the age of 16 are at higher risk, according to the stickers.

Al Araij said that all billboards and posters promoting energy drinks in the area have been removed.

Shop owners and salesmen should cooperate fully with the public and the municipality in order to promote a healthier lifestyle, he added.

The Saudi government imposed the ban following an interior ministry study of the “negative effects of energy drinks”.

All forms of promoting and advertising for energy drinks, be they through print, audio or visual media or otherwise, are not allowed, the cabinet said.

Under the ban, energy drink companies, agents, distributors and promoters are prohibited from sponsoring any sports, social or cultural event or engaging in any process that leads to promotion, the cabinet said.

No energy drinks should be distributed or given away free to consumers, regardless of their age.

Energy drink company owners and importers must have warning labels in both Arabic and English on the cans to caution consumers against what the interior ministry said were harmful effects.