Take note, supermarkets: We already have laws in place concerning alcohol and children

Supermarkets have been stopping parents buying alcohol where children are present

Share
Related Topics

I’m really not much of a drinker but I’m minded to round up every juvenile I know and march them round to the local supermarket like a bibulous pied piper and buy myself a bottle of plonk while they all watch me and cheer.

Except that the cashier would probably refuse to let me have it – despite the fact that I am a responsible adult many decades over the legal age for the purchase of alcoholic liquor and have never given alcohol to a child – although it is actually legal for a parent or guardian to so in private provided the child is over five.

It was reported this week that a cashier in Asda in Bolton refused to sell beer and wine for Christmas to a woman aged 51 because she was accompanied by her 24 year old son and his sister, 13. There have been similar reports from branches of Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op around the country.

It would seem that the decision whether or not to serve drink to a customer is made by the cashier. Almost unbelievably the checkout operator can be personally fined £80 if he or she makes a mistake and sells alcohol to a child, directly or indirectly, hence the over zealousness and total lack of common sense among some of them.

Meanwhile the supermarkets, which should, of course, be taking the responsibility on themselves rather than leaving it to individuals, are blindly and self-righteously backing their staff in each and every case reported.

Yes, this country has a drink problem. It always has had. Tacitus commented on it in Roman times. Voltaire mentions it in Lettres Sur Les Anglais. Many tourists today are puzzled and horrified by the drunkenness they see and hear on our streets. I hear it surging loudly past my house around midnight every Friday and Saturday as the local population leaves the two pubs at the bottom of the road. And the Labour government’s 24 hour drinking policy, which had made it much, much worse, must surely be one of the silliest  ideas any government has ever dreamed up. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption is a causal factor in heart disease and many cancers.

So we really do need to find ways of tackling it and that certainly includes making absolutely sure that children and underage teenagers cannot buy alcohol or have it bought specifically for them to consume unsupervised.  Education can do a lot because there are deeply embedded mindsets to change about, for example, what constitutes having a good time because it doesn’t have to be alcohol related. Proper policing (out of your offices, all you constables) of streets and shops, especially smaller ones, would help. And I think, on balance, minimum pricing is worth trying.

But this is not a police state and I hope it never is. You can advise people that it is foolish and dangerous to give alcohol to minors – although the French and others argue that if children learn to drink very small quantities at home they grow up with moderate drinking habits. Several recent reports have argued against this point of view and the advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, quoted on the NHS website is that an alcohol-free childhood is healthiest.  But it is parents and carers who make the decision and unless a child, ends up at A&E with alcohol poisoning, then it remains private – and legal.

Fortunately the vast majority of people don’t ply their kids with booze.  But they do have a right to buy themselves a bottle or two, regardless of who happens to be with them.  And I think we adults should cling on tightly to that right and not allow cashiers in supermarkets and their bossy bosses to tell us what we are allowed to buy and how we should organise the family shopping.

See you in Asda with my young entourage.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn