UK supermarket Asda has joined the debate currently raging in the country over cheap alcohol sales.

The retailer said yesterday (25 February) that it has prepared a "comprehensive package of measures aimed at limiting access to alcohol in stores".

The measures are aimed at tackling both underage drinking and "the effects that late night alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour have on the local communities in which it operates", the company said. From 7 April, Asda's town centre stores will not sell alcohol between midnight and 6am, while the chain as a whole will also extend its 'Challenge 25' proof of age scheme to all of these stores to further prevent underage sales.

"Our aim is to make it practically impossible for under 18s to break the law in our stores," said Asda's CEO and president, Andy Bond. "I find it unacceptable that children in the UK are still able to purchase alcohol from retailers and pubs. So from today we are adopting a zero-tolerance approach.

"Every single Asda store in the UK will be independently tested at least once a month, with the results published on our website. We will also display signs within the store making it clear that we reserve the right to prosecute anyone under 18 who attempts to purchase alcohol, or anyone that is doing so on a child's behalf."

Bond also delivered a veiled attack on rival chain Tesco, which last week called on the UK government to allow talks to begin on setting agreed higher prices for alcohol in the country.

"Unlike some in the industry I am also not prepared to hide behind calls for more legislation," Bond said. "I believe there are plenty of things we can do now to start tackling this important social issue, which is why we are announcing these measures today."

Asda is also de-listing high alcohol, fruit-flavoured shot-sized 'shooters' from its range, following calls from campaigners claiming these drinks are particularly attractive to underage drinkers.