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Boris backs alcohol ban for under-21s

Published:  18 January, 2007

London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed proposals that would see supermarkets and off-licences stop selling alcohol to anyone under 21.

Speaking at yesterday's Mayoral Question Time, Johnson said: "I do think that we have got a huge problem of binge drinking, underage drinking and general abuse of alcohol in this city - it's one of the reasons I introduced a ban on drinking on public transport - and I certainly think that this idea is a very interesting one.

"Where we have got particular problems in particular areas, then off-licences and supermarkets should stop the sale of alcohol to the under-21s. That is the kind of solution that Londoners are looking to us to provide."

He added: "I do think this is something where the boroughs can take a lead and banish the scourge of binge drinking."

The scheme was put forward by Croydon councillor Steve O'Connell, who asked the Mayor: "Will you join with me in looking for licensees to follow the example of some licensees in Scotland and create a self-regulation scheme to only sell to over-21s?"

"What we want to tackle is the corner shops that are selling eight cans of Stella for a fiver because it can lead to young people then getting involved in anti-social behaviour. It will require a cultural shift and it would affect their profit margins, but it would stop some violent incidents taking place and, after Croydon, I would like to see this applied across London."

The scheme put forward would be a voluntary one, backed by individual local authorities, rather than a blanket, London-wide ban.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) commented: "We feel that this measure is disproportionate and ultimately a knee-jerk reaction that will not effectively target the problems identified.

"Off-licences alone cannot be allocated sole blame of any alcohol-related problems experienced in Croydon and other London boroughs, and it is unhelpful and unfair to focus on only one part of the industry. We need to look at promoting more partnership working, as well as seeing what more can be done with parents and young people themselves."