Police want landlords in parts of the north-east of England to ban the sale of alcohol to people under 21.
Binge drinking is a major cause of anti-social behaviour
Durham Police say the radical move will help cut drink-related crime during the summer months.
But the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA), which represents self-employed licensees, described the move as "draconian".
The Durham force is planning high-visibility street patrols, coupled with unannounced visits to pubs and clubs.
In an effort to target the problem of young adults buying drink on behalf of under-18s, licensees are being asked to sign up to a "21 or over scheme" which only allows those aged 21 and above to buy alcohol.
A force spokesman said: "The misuse of alcohol has a direct impact on the quality of life of those living both in the vicinity of licensed premises and beyond.
"Throughout this campaign we will be increasing uniformed patrols around pubs, clubs and off-licenses and, behind the scenes, we will be working closely with licensees to ensure they are doing what they can to improve the situation."
He said the campaign will focus on Durham City and the south of the county.
But John Hudson, president of the FLVA, and who runs the Crossways Hotel in Thornley, County Durham, said: "This is very draconian.
"There is no way licensees will be able to administer this effectively and it could potentially lose them a lot of money.
"It is not up to the police to pick on the young people, the majority of whom are good and well-behaved.
It is a stupid idea. What we need are more police on the beat.
"We have long called for a national ID card, which would go a long way to solving the problem of under-age youngsters buying alcohol."
But the Durham Police spokesman said: "Licensees should be employing staff who are properly trained and able to deal responsibly with both under-age drinkers and those customers who shouldn't be served more drink because they are already drunk.
"Irresponsible drinks promotions such as 'buy one get one free' also need curtailing.
"There are lots of ways licensees can cut the risk of disorder both on their premises and in the wider community once drinkers have left.
"Premises should not be overcrowded and, at the end of the night, when people are preparing to leave for home their mood can be influenced through changes to music and lighting.
"We'll be working with licensees and advising them on areas needing improvement."
Do you think under-21s should be banned from drinking alcohol? You sent us your views.
This policy is discrimination and nothing more. Discriminating against someone on the grounds of race, sex, age or sexuality are grounds for legal action in most areas of everyday life. If a link were proven between any other division of a population, for example black or gay people and a high alcohol related crime rate in a certain area would the police advise against sales of alcohol to these groups? Clearly not as this would insight moral outrage from the general population. So why is it deemed acceptable to prevent the young from purchasing a product that they are legally allowed to purchase?
Sam Coward, Exeter, UK
I thoroughly agree that the sale of alcohol should be restricted to over 21's. You just have to look at the crime levels and yob culture fostered by over indulgence to realise that some under 21's just simply aren't mature enough to react sensibly to being allowed to consume alcohol.
Tim, Bradford West Yorkshire
This country is getting more like America everyday!
Gemma Hayward, Buckinghamshire
How can this work. People mature at different ages and you can get married at 16, vote at 18, join the army at 16 etc. Some people can act responsibly others cannot. The percentage of the population that can act responsibly does tend to increase with age, but it is not intrinsically defined by age Publicans should stop serving to anyone who is not acting responsibly (and has drunk too much) whether they are 18 or 80 without regard to loss of profit
Phil , Reading, Berks
I am 20 years old, why should I not be allowed to drink? People of all ages cannot handle their drink and start fights and cause trouble so why single out people under 21?
Robert Sutton, Halifax, England
That will do nothing to curtail the violence often associated with heavy drinking in this country. The more violent ones will still manage to get alcohol anyway. Why don't we set up special violent grounds where people can go if they want to be violent leaving the rest of us alone?
Athos, London UK
Is there anything significantly different in the genetic makeup of British people that makes us drink to excess unlike our European colleagues? No - in Germany one can by and drink beer at 16. The age limit is not the issue it's social attitudes that must change. Personally if any age limits were to change I would favour increasing the legal smoking age and reducing the legal drinking age. Smoking is after all highly addictive and more deadly "pleasure".
Edward Grace, London
Are Durham police saying grown men and women aged 20 are responsible enough to drive, marry, go to war, and soon be able to stand for parliament, but aren't trustworthy enough to enjoy a relaxing beer after work with older colleagues on a summers evening?!
Iain H, Leeds, UK
A blanket ban on under 21s would be unfair to those who do drink sensibly. It would wrong to impose a different age limit for one particular area. The police should target those drinkers who cause trouble and the courts should deal strictly with them. Perhaps those individuals should then be banned from drinking in local pubs and clubs.
Martin Kelly, London, England
There should be more police and door staff around to ID under age drinkers as they are the ones who are ruining it for the ones who are sensible.
Becki, Exeter, Devon
An idiotic scheme with no chance of working - what about those aged 18-20 who can already legally drink? It will only encourage more illegal drinking in parks and similar places. This plan is going the wrong way and I'd have thought the police would have more sense.
Ed Whittaker, Swansea, Wales
Licensees need to take far more responsibility for serving people who are intoxicated.
This is a major step to making our streets safer, but it should also be applied to supermarkets and off licences who supply cans for youths to consume outside shopping centres and in parks. Licensees and shopkeepers are more interested in profits than the levels of drink fuelled violence that is an everyday occurrence.
Nigel Goerick, Hartlepool, UK
This proposal just enhances the case for ID cards. In Las Vegas people believed to be under 26 are required to provide a form of ID that confirms their age. An ID scheme here should see a decrease in under-age drinking without the need for bar staff to make judgements on who is under age.
Kate Atkins, West Molesey England
No of course not. Adults are either responsible or irresponsible. Irresponsible ones won't suddenly become responsible at 21, and responsible ones aged under-21 would be unfairly singled out because of others' behaviour. Penalising a whole group because of the actions of a few has always been deeply unjust.
Alex Galloway, London, UK