Campaigners against aggressive supermarket discounting argue that the proposals will do little to curb rock-bottom pricing. Indeed Asda already refuses to sell drinks for less than the cost of tax.
Under the plans, a litre bottle of vodka or whisky could still be sold for as little as £10.71 and low-strength beer for just 38p a can.
The government has shied away from any attempt to introduce minimum prices per unit of alcohol, fearing that such a scheme would be open to legal challenge. The Scottish government wanted to go down that route last year but was defeated by opposition parties.
Professor Ian Gilmore, who represents the Alcohol Health Alliance, described the government’s proposal as a “small step” which would have “no effect at all on the health of this nation”.
Alcohol Concern, the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Beer & Pub Association also said the plans did not go far enough.