A new report published today has blasted parents for allowing their children alcohol when underage, claiming it can lead to alcohol-related problems later in life.
The "Guidance on the consumption of alcohol by children and young people" by England's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson sets out a series of statistics that point towards alcohol behaviour being developed according to the example given at home.
Donaldson accused some parents of a "laissez-faire" approach to their children drinking. He claimed this could cause alcohol-related problems in later life.
New offical guidance states that under-15s should drink no alcohol, while under-17s should drink only with supervision.
However, parents and carers can legally give their children alcohol from the age of 5.
Donaldson claimed that exposing children to drink-fuelled events means they are more likely to become binge-drinkers in later childhood or heavy-drinking adults.
He also condemned the "ready availability" of cheap alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences.
Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "We welcome the Chief Medical Officer's clear guidance. The role of parents is hugely important in instilling a responsible attitude to alcohol, especially as Government research indicates that the majority of 11-15-year-olds who have tried alcohol are getting it from their parents or other family members.
"Retailers are taking every step possible to prevent underage sales. The Challenge 25 scheme, which requires anyone who looks under 25, to present proof of age if they wish to purchase alcohol, is driving down underage sales."