A call for off-trade alcohol to be cordoned off from other products and sold at a separate till has been rubbished by the Association of Convenience Stores.

The proposal is aimed at curtailing underage and binge drinking and came from the Licensed Trades Association (SALTA), a body comprising stewards, publicans and restaurateurs in the south east.

Supporting the SALTA proposal, Dartford Labour MP Dr Howard Stoate contrasted the "responsible" attitude of the licensed trade with the "far less regulated" off-trade.

"Having a separate till and a separate area would make people much more aware of how much alcohol they are buying," he said. "It's very easy to cruise around with a supermarket trolley and put five bottles of wine in it without really thinking about it."

However, the ACS said it could not support "any form of one-size-fits-all restriction" on the way an individual business operates. Shane Brennan, public affairs director at the ACS, explained: "Dedicated alcohol areas are not that easy to implement in practice as there are many different kinds of store.

"If a local authority believed in the merits of such a measure in an individual case, it has the powers to do this under the Licensing Act."

It is not the first time such a proposal has been made. The Scottish Grocers Federation speculated when regulations for the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 were being drafted that there would be separate tills for alcohol sales, but these never materialised.

The Act comes into force in September 2009.