Children aged under 15 should never be given alcohol, the UK's chief medical officer has said today (29 January).

Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson has said that childhood should be an "alcohol-free time" and that alcoholic drinks should not be consumed under the age of 15, "even in small quantities".

Ministers are expected to publish official guidance to parents on alcohol and children later today. It is not expected to be made legally binding.

Research suggests that many children have already been exposed to alcohol at home by the age of seven, and that while the number of young people who regularly drink has fallen to around 21% of 11 to 15-year-olds, those who do consume alcohol do so far more often than in the past.

Gavin Partington, of the Wine & Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), told just-drinks prior to today's announcement: "It will be very helpful for the information to be provided for both parents and young people but I think it shows much more education is needed.

"What is required is a segment in the curriculum on the consumption of alcohol. You could make an argument for it to be introduced well before the age of 15."

The European Spirits Organisation, CEPS, said the industry has already taken a firm stance against underage drinking: "The European spirits industry sharply condemns any misuse of its products, and this especially includes consumption by minors."