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Tesco boss calls for unified drinking age

Published:  23 July, 2008

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy called for a unified drinking age during a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

But the supermarket insists it is not blaming parents for binge and underage drinking.

Speaking at the Downing Street summit on binge and underage drinking, Sir Terry raised the issue of whether there should be a single age limit for drinking - whether it be at home or on licensed premises.

Currently, children can drink at home from the age of five. Youngsters aged over 16 can drink wine, beer or cider on licensed premises if eating with an adult, while over-18s can legally buy alcohol anywhere.

Sir Terry said a unified age limit might help parents "if they are backed by a clear message from the law which says this is the age at which you can consume alcohol."

But a Tesco spokesman insisted the chief executive was not trying to shift the blame onto parents, and conceded that retailers had a big part to play.

Sir Terry also made the point that cheap alcohol was not necessarily the cause of problem drinking - as in many countries on the Continent where alcohol was cheaper than in the UK did not have the same problems.

But Scandinavian countries with higher prices did have similar issues.

The spokesman said: "You can't put the whole cultural problem in any one court - parents, shopsit's an issue for everybody."