A DRAMATIC U-turn is on the cards after councillors discovered a proof-of-age scheme for teenagers is sponsored by the tobacco industry.

Last August councillors started looking into the CitizenCard photo ID scheme to reduce under-age drinking and smoking in Fareham.

But the idea is set to be shelved on Monday because officials discovered the CitizenCard's major sponsor is British American Tobacco (BAT).

They fear the health sector would be unwilling to fund it because of the tobacco industry link.

A report to the Crime and Community Safety Panel recommends switching support to the Validate UK scheme, which will never accept tobacco industry sponsorship.

Panel member Councillor Lyn Bounds said: "I'm surprised the CitizenCard scheme is sponsored by the tobacco industry, as the whole point of it is to stop under-age people smoking."

A Fareham and Gosport Primary Care Group spokesman said: "Links to the tobacco industry are not something we would want to make. Our initial thoughts would be to use the Validate UK card."

Validate UK could be introduced in the summer in partnership with the Healthy Fareham Alliance and Hampshire Police Authority at a cost of £1,300.

The cards for minors aged over 12 - recognised by supermarkets, cinemas and off-licences - would be free to 14 to 15-year-olds in Fareham.

CitizenCard spokeswoman Bhavna Joshi said: "The government backs us. It is aware that BAT sponsors us. It's the government's view that companies which produce cigarettes should be funding schemes to stop cigarette sales."