September 22, 2017 / 12:09 AM / 2 years ago

BYU lifts decades-long ban on caffeinated soft drink sales

(Reuters) - Brigham Young University has ended a 60-year ban on the sale of caffeinated soft drinks at its flagship campus in Provo, Utah, the Mormon Church-owned school said on Thursday.

Students or visitors will no longer need to bring their own sodas onto the 33,000-student campus, Dean Wright, the school’s director of dining services, said on the university’s website.

“This decision was not based on financial considerations,” Wright said. “We are simply working to meet the preferences of our customers.”

The university is operated by the Salt Lake City-based Mormon Church, formally known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormons are encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but it was a long-held misunderstanding that the faithful were barred from consuming caffeine.

In 2012, the church clarified its position on the issue in the health practices section of its website.

“The Church’s health guidelines prohibit alcoholic drinks, smoking or chewing of tobacco, and hot drinks - taught by Church leaders to refer specifically to tea and coffee,” it said.

Wright said in the mid-1950s, his predecessor issued the caffeinated soda ban, and it remained the school’s policy until Thursday’s announcement. The university’s administration supported the decision to begin offering the beverages, he said.

BYU is the largest private religious university in the United States. It is named after Brigham Young, an early church leader who led the faithful to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, three years after its founder, Joseph Smith, was killed by an Illinois lynch mob.

The university has an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola.

Highly-caffeinated energy drinks will not be sold on the Provo campus, which is located about 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, he added.

Current and former students took to social media to weigh in on the new policy, posting photos of themselves holding bottles and cans of the sugary beverages.

“During my last year at BYU, my roommate helped run a caffeine bootlegging business,” Maddy Greaves posted on Twitter. “It’s nice to see her service would no longer be needed.”

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Osterman

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