The pub and drinks industry has criticised calls for a ban of alcohol advertising after 9pm and a total ban on internet ads to prevent children being targeted. Alcohol Concern, the national agency on alcohol misuse, made the plea yesterday at the start of its Alcohol Awareness Week. It claimed that up to five million children aged between four and fifteen were exposed to alcohol ads during England games on ITV during the World Cup. Alcohol Concern said children exposed to alcohol marketing are more likely to drink more at an earlier age. However, it admitted that all the adverts were within the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines. Mark Hastings, British Beer & Pub Association director of communications, said: “The main point is that no alcohol advertising is aimed at children. “We already have some of the toughest regulations in the world. The most critical issue has been ignored that it is illegal to serve alcohol to under-18s. “All this report shows is that the trade was completely compliant. It shows this report is just based on sand rather than firm foundations.” And, Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), added: "Alcohol Concern's claim that advertising of alcohol drinks leads to higher levels of drinking among under 18's is not supported by the evidence. "In fact a recently concluded study led by Professor Gerard Hastings of Stirling University, a staunch critic of alcohol advertising, found no association between awareness of alcohol marketing at age 13 and either the onset of drinking or the amount consumed two years later. "The truth is that the marketing and advertising restrictions Alcohol Concern seeks would hit the pockets of millions of consumers and threaten the livelihoods of thousands of people working in the media, advertising and television, not to mention the drinks industry. "Worse still the proposed restrictions would do nothing to address the root causes of alcohol misuse. The drinks industry is funding a number of major campaigns to change drinking patterns amongst young adults. We believe culture change is more likely to be achieved through long term education and tough enforcement."