The Scottish Executive has proposed a bill to ban Scottish shops from selling alcohol to under-21s, before a consultation on the proposal had closed.

First minister Alex Salmond, leader of the ruling Scottish National Party (SNP), outlined plans to ban off-trade alcohol sales to under-21s in a speech on forthcoming legislation today (3 September).

Salmond's announcement, delivered in the Scottish Parliament, was immediately attacked by drinks industry associations.

A proposal to raise the legal age to 21 in off-licences had been part of the Scottish Executive's alcohol strategy, published earlier this summer. But, a public consultation on the strategy is not due to officially close until 9 September.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, called the plan "nonsensical".

He said: "Instead of actually enforcing the laws available to tackle problems associated with alcohol misuse, the SNP has decided that headlines are more important than progress. It is by getting police out on the streets enforcing the law that we will make our communities safer."

Diageo told just-drinks this weekend of its disappointment with the alcohol strategy proposals, which also include minimum pricing, promotions restrictions and alcohol-only checkouts in stores.

"We are disillusioned with the Scottish government's paper and frustrated that Government is trying to place responsibility for tackling alcohol misuse on the shoulders of the drinks industry and thus failing to recognise that everyone has the responsibility," said Benet Slay, managing director of Diageo Great Britain.

Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill has repeatedly stated that he would not be swayed by industry lobbying. The SNP says alcohol misuse costs Scotland GBP2.25bn (US$4bn) annually.