The second part of the controversial Mandatory Code on alcohol retailing comes into force today — even though it may be scrapped within months.
The new rules mean that all premises must have an age verification policy in place, such as Challenge-21, and offer a 125ml glass of wine, beer in half pints and either a 25ml or 35ml measure of spirits.
The first part of the code, which banned irresponsible promotions and mad it compulsory for pubs to supply free tap water, came into effect in April.
The Home Office said that the minimum standard for age verification must be to ask all those people who look under-18 to produce photographic ID such as a passport, driving licence or a proof of age card with the PASS hologram.
However, the Government may still scrap the code as part of its overhaul on licensing and legal and local authority experts have admitted a light touch approach will most likely be taken as detailed guidance is still thin on the ground.
"My opinion is that they are not going to be enforced rigorously at all," said Jim Hunter, the Institute of Licensing's south-west region chairman.
"While we are waiting to see what's happening with licensing responses, anybody who [focuses on] these conditions might find they don't exist in a few months anyway."
A Home Office spokesperson said: "We are committed to tackling problem premises by reversing the negative impact of the failed 'cafe culture' and recently consulted on a range of proposals to tackle alcohol related crime and disorder.
"We are now carefully considering the responses and will publish the final proposals shortly."
The fine for non-compliance with any condition of the mandatory code is a fine of up to £20,000 and/or six months imprisonment.