Supermarket shoppers buying alcohol could be forced to do a 'walk of shame' to a special alcohol-only checkout counter under new plans being considered by the Government.
The scheme, which would bring alcohol sales into line with those of cigarettes, is part of the Government's campaign to tackle binge-drinking.
It would see alcohol-only checkouts added which would be operated by specially-trained staff.
It is hoped it would put shoppers off from buying excessive amounts of alcohol under the scrutiny of fellow customers and help catch those buying underage.
Earlier this month, Conservative MP Nigel Evans tabled an early day motion demanding that the government look at supermarkets' alcohol pricing policy after the disclosure that Asda had been selling four-packs of Skol for 90p, nearly half the price of a four-pack of Evian.
A senior Government source said that ministers were sure that price had a significant influence on underage drinking levels and was considering a number of measures to change the culture of drinking to excess.
"Having separate areas to sell alcohol will help us tackle this growing problem of young people getting tanked up on cheap supermarket beers and lagers," the source was reported as saying. "We would also want to see specially-trained staff in these areas to make sure alcohol is not being bought by people who are underage."
But those buying a selection of beer and wine along with their weekly groceries would be forced to queue twice to pay for one, then the other.
And the move is likely to enrage supermarkets because of the potential cost of constructing new areas and training staff, and the potential inconvenience to customers who could simply opt to buy their drink elsewhere.
Ministers are expected to reject, however, the suggestion of doctors that alcohol be priced per unit of alcohol and a minimum price for any alcoholic drink.
They are also considering whether to force supermarkets to stamp a bar code on cans of lager, alcopops and bottles of spirits and wine to enable police to quickly be able to identify where alcohol they confiscate from underage drinkers has come from.
The plans all form part of a draft code of practice looking at ways of clamping down on British drinking drawn up by the Home Office and the Department of Health.
# Aislinn Simpson
# October 22, 2008
I can't see such a thing making a blind bit of difference. I certainly wouldn't be ashamed of buying large amounts of Alcohol. It even has an added advantage - if your only going shopping for Alcohol you get out faster and thus get to drink it earlier.