Supermarkets to curb underage drinking

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The government is joining forces with supermarkets in a bid to stop the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers.

Representatives from the six major supermarket chains this week met with the home secretary Charles Clark, the culture secretary Tessa Jowell and representatives from the British Retail Consortium and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to thrash out strategies to stop minors buying alcohol in supermarkets.

The parties have now signed up to a co-ordinated approach, and will meet again in the next few weeks to try and agree an action plan to promote sensible drinking and responsible drinking in the licensed trade.

Tessa Jowell said: “It is illegal to sell alcohol to someone who is under 18. There is no grey area and there can be no excuse. The supermarkets can be part of the solution or part of the problem – but I was heartened by the clear willingness to recognise their responsibilities.”

The meeting comes four weeks before the introduction of the new licensing law which will allow licensed premises to open around the clock. Under the new law, the penalty for selling alcohol to children will rise to £5,000.

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