Industry bodies representing the drinks trade in the UK have slammed a call to raise the legal drinking limit.

Over the weekend, the journal of the Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank said the country should consider increasing the age consumers can legally drink at to 21, in light of a nation that has "lost the plot" regarding alcohol regulation.

The organisation also suggested that 18-year-olds should carry smart cards recording their level of alcohol consumption each night, as well as making it an offence to serve alcohol to anyone under 21 who had already consumed more than three units beforehand.

But, when contacted by just-drinks today (16 April), David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, the responsible alcohol standards body, said: "Stronger education to change the drinking culture is a better way of tackling these problems, not making drinking a social taboo.

"This would drive problems underground, forcing more young people to drink unsupervised, and so increasing the likelihood of accidents and anti-social behaviour."

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, added: "I don't think this is a sensible way of tackling alcohol consumption amongst the younger consumers. There are so many other ways that 18-21 year-olds can get hold of alcohol - from parents, brothers and sister, and also illegally."

Turning to the smart card suggestion, Beadles questioned the idea from a personal freedom standpoint. "The smart card suggestion is a way of controlling people's lives that many may not be comfortable with," he said. "It's an extraordinary idea."