Retailers have attacked plans by the Prime Minister to bring in a "two strikes and you're out" rule against those selling alcohol to under-18s.

This week Gordon Brown said he wanted tougher sanctions against shops flouting the law, including closure orders for those caught selling alcohol to under-18s twice within three months. The current threshold is three times in the same period.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said retailers were already subject to tough laws on alcohol sales and that the government was using off-

licences and c-stores as scapegoats in the battle against underage drinking.

"There are myriad complex and difficult issues surrounding alcohol misuse but instead of taking real steps to tackle them the government resorts to mudslinging at hard-working people on the front line of preventing underage alcohol purchases," said Lowman.

Gordon Brown made his comments ahead of this week's Department of Culture, Media and Sport review into the Licensing Act 2003, which introduced 24-hour opening. The review painted a mixed picture of how the law had impacted on binge and underage drinking.