The coalition's proposed minimum alcohol price of 45p per unit was criticised today for punishing lower-income drinkers while failing to tackle the underlying problems of alcohol abuse.
Home Secretary Theresa May said the controversial plans will tackle "drunken mayhem" on Britain's streets and "turn the tide" on a culture of irresponsible drinking, estimated to cost the taxpayer £21 billion a year.
As well as introducing a minimum alcohol price of 45p per unit, multi-buy deals in supermarkets and off licences could also be banned under the plans being put out for consultation.
But 4Children said while the proposals may limit the amount of alcohol that teenagers and low-earning families drink, "it will neither help nor challenge those better-off families where hazardous drinking levels have become a part of everyday life."
Chief executive Anne Longfied said its own Over the Limit report showed that alcohol misuse is a major problem among affluent families for whom cost is not an issue.
"It's time we invested in robust universal services which provide clear, unambiguous advice."
And the drinks industry also warned that the 45p threshold would hit modest consumers hard without addressing the underlying problems, suggesting a 50p minimum unit price would be more effective.
Home Office officials insisted the consultation was targeted at "harmful drinkers, problem pubs and irresponsible shops."