BORN after 1977? Wanting to buy alcohol?

Then you better make sure you are carrying some proof of your age next time you pop down to one York supermarket.

Bosses at the Askham Bar branch of Tesco, in Tadcaster Road, have introduced a new alcohol sales policy - and it means staff will challenge anyone lucky enough to look under 30 to prove their age before they can buy booze.

Since November 2005 and the introduction of the new licensing laws, the company has adhered to the Think 21 scheme, whereby staff are trained to ask anyone who looks under 21 to prove they are 18.

Now they have extended the scheme.

A spokesman for Tesco said Think 30 had been introduced at the end of January on a trial basis.

"We are running sporadic trials across the country," he said.

"When local authorities go into shops and find a 15-year-old girl has been served in a test case, it's not the case that the shop is serving young kids alcohol, it's just that staff can't always tell ages accurately.

"The issue of underage drinking is very important. We have to take this very strong line on it."

He said the supermarket giant was successful because it listened to its shoppers.

"If it proves really unpopular, with customers thinking it's ridiculous, we'll reconsider," he said.

"If customers think it's a really good idea that cuts down on underage drinking, we'll keep it."

But councillors and shoppers reacted with surprise at the draconian measures.

James Cook from The Press attempted to buy alcohol at Tesco but was stopped in his tracks.
“I was genuinely shocked to be asked for ID. I am 26 and it must be four or five years since the last time anyone asked”, he said.
“The woman behind the checkout apologised though and said that if she did not ask me then she could lose her job.
“The woman in front of me in the queue, who looked well over 30, had to leave her cider at the checkout as she had no ID. Luckily I had my driving licence on me, so avoided an embarrassing situation.”

Coun Paul Blanchard, 32, who represents Heworth on City of York Council, said: "I think this is a step too far - after all, can't there be some common sense in all of this?

"I appreciate retailers have to be careful, but there comes a point where being cautious ends and being daft begins. Asking someone for ID who is 12 years older than the minimum age is simply ridiculous."

"I got married aged 27 in Hawaii and had the first part of my honeymoon there. They have a similar policy there about IDing anyone under 30, and it was genuinely a big issue for me - very inconvenient, and on my own honeymoon too.

"The first night we were there I was wanting to order some champagne but was restricted to diet cola, as I was loathe to take my passport on a night out with me."

Tesco shopper Matthew Martin, 25, said: "It's a bit steep. I really don't see why it should be 30. You can understand their reasons for doing it, but I think it's a bit too much."

Another shopper, Mrs Styrin, 47, of Acomb, said: "I think it's cheeky. I think for 21-year-olds it's OK, but 30 is just a bit extreme. It's a bit over the top."

A spokesman for the Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers, which represents some checkout assistants, said the union welcomed the new scheme.

"We support anything in the sector that reduces the sale of alcohol to young people. This sends out a message to underage drinkers that they won't get served in Tesco," he said.