Alcohol Concern's call for drinking under the age of 15 to be outlawed, even if supervised by parents, has been attacked by the trade.
According to the pressure group, the amount of alcohol consumed by girls aged 11-13 increased by 82.6 per cent between 2000-2006, and for boys by 43.4 per cent. Srabani Sen, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Binge drinking by children can have serious consequences for brain function, significantly raises the risk of alcohol dependency and diminishes their life chances. We are simply not doing enough to protect our children from alcohol."
Alcohol Concern said that raising the drinking age from five to 15 "would send a stronger message to parents of the risks associated with letting very young people consume alcohol".
AC also wants more test purchasing, a ban on alcohol ads before 9pm and alcohol studies on the National Curriculum.
But trade insiders argue that early supervised expos ure to alcohol is a good thing and recounted their own childhood experiences to OLN.
Richard Genders The Bottle Stop, Bramhall
I remember at home we would have Mateus Rosť, Entre-Deux-Mers, sherry and cans of Long Life. I would have a drink with Sunday lunch but then a bottle of sherry was always open and I used to take advantage of that. There was always alcohol in the house and it was never hidden away. I never had any interest in going into a pub and trying to get served under-age. There are bigger issues to deal with in this country than children drinking. Drinking responsibly is the name of the game. A glass of wine is not going to send them on the road to wrack and ruin.
Jeremy Beadles, chief executive, Wine & Spirit Trade Association
My parents' view was that it was much better to introduce me to a little bit of alcohol now and again at home and to learn a bit about it. Probably from about 12 or 13 I was allowed a glass of cider or wine. From 17 at school I was allowed to drink - as a prefect I had a beer allowance of four cans a week. I don't understand why we would want a piece of legislation that is unenforceable. Demonising the subject is not the way forward.
Dave Broom spirits writer
At about 14 I was allowed cider and shandy in pubs but I began my drinking career at scout
camp as drinking
was the only way to keep warm. I was exposed to
drinking - my dad drank whisky and my mum sherry and gin. My uncle was in the wine trade so drink was around which means I had respect for it. I
didn't necessarily feel the need to sneak a drink.
Harpal Rai Rai Wine Shop, Birmingham
I was about 16
and I suppose it
was peer pressure
as I got into sixth
form. As far as my parents were concerned alcohol was off-limits until you were a mature
adult. If we had visitors round my
dad would dip his finger in his spirit
and let us have a taste. It tasted
horrible and even now I don't drink spirits.
Charles May Abbey Stores, Salisbury
I was introduced to red wine and lemonade with a family meal from the age of 10 or 11. Alcohol was never a problem in the household - it was there if you wanted it. I had my fair share of silliness with alcohol as a youngster and now hopefully I'm more responsible. Children should be credited with having a bit of common sense.
Liz Aked Wine trading controller, Spar
When I was about 13 at home I had wine, diluted. It was probably French red. It was just a normal part of life, not a special thing. If you didn't drink till you were 18 you would think it was a much bigger event.Diageo is spending £3.5 million on a UK marketing campaign for Pimm's until the end of August, including TV, press and digital ads, in-store promotions and sampling activity reaching 750,000 consumers. Old-fashioned bicycles will hit the streets offering money-off vouchers for cans of Pimm's & Lemonade. Promotions include gift packs of Pimm's 1-litre bottle with a free jug (rrp £16.79) and six-packs of Pimm's & Lemonade cans with a cool-bag (rrp £6.79).