The legal drinking age should be dropped to 16 and not raised to 21 as proposed by the chief constable of Cheshire, a leading public health consultant has argued.
Professor John Ashton, director of Public Health at Cumbria NHS Primary Care Trust, said allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to drinks in pubs is the best way to encourage socially responsible drinking.
In August Peter Fahy, chief constable of Cheshire, called for the legal age to buy alcohol to be raised from 18 to 21 after three teenage boys were charged with the murder of a man in Warrington.
Medical journal The Lancet and the Institute for Public Policy Research have also called for a rise in the legal age to drink alcohol.
But Aston has called for "creative solutions" that treat teenagers like adults and ask them to take on responsibility.
By Christopher Walton