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The BBC's Cary Johnston
"A spokesman for the group denied the charge would encourage under-age drinking"
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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 06:04 GMT
Drinkers charged for proof-of-age card

The drinks industry charges 5 for proof of age

Young drinkers are to be charged for identity cards which prove they are old enough to be served alcohol.

Since 1990 the drinks industry organisation, the Portman Group, has provided almost half a million Prove It! cards free to people over the age of 18.

The card can stop embarrassment in pubs
But the group now says it intends to charge 5 for every card it issues, from 14 February.

The card is aimed at protecting licensees from inadvertently selling alcohol to under-18s, and help over-18s who look younger to buy alcohol.

Young people pick up an application for the card from retailers or licensees, and send it off to the Portman Group.

Every application for a card must be sponsored by a responsible adult, such as a doctor, teacher or magistrate, and the age of every applicant is verified.

Call for blanket scheme

Jean Coussins, director of the Portman Group, said: "Most cardholders say they would have been willing to pay for their card.

"It is reasonable to assume that 5 will not put people off."

The group argued that the Youth Card being developed by the government - to offer discounts on learning materials and other benefits to 16-to-18-year-olds in education - should be designed to double up as a proof of age card.

It said that only a government scheme providing blanket coverage could offer a solution to the problem of under-age drinking.

Studies showed a quarter of under 18-year-olds had been sold alcohol by retailers, the group added.

Mrs Cousins said: "Every licensee should routinely ask younger-looking customers for proof of age".

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