There are clear parallels between the latest crusade by a women’s group which wants to banish lads’ mag from shop shelves and the growing number of ‘voluntary’ schemes aimed at taking strong lager and cider off sale.

UK Feminista says that retailers face legal action from staff of customers who are offended by ‘degrading’ images on the covers of the likes of Nuts, Zoo and FHM.

It’s an interesting new development in what has been a decades old battle by pressure groups and the Association of Convenience Stores is still waiting for the case law examples it requested last week to back the argument up.

Putting aside the fact that perhaps this would have been more timely in the early 90s when these magazines sold in more significant volumes, any right-minded observer should have misgivings about the claims by UK Feminista.

It’s the easy choice for them. Rather than spend time and money pursuing legitimate lobbying channels, retailers are being asked to become arbiters in a moral debate about what is suitable for sale.

At the same time, more and more police authorities are asking retailers to stop selling cans of alcohol with an ABV higher than 6%. Two towns have begun and up to 60 are expected to follow.

Of course the ultimate decision lies with the retailer, but many will read this as an attempt to stigmatise a perfectly legal and profitable market.

It amounts to little more than censorship by the back door and it’s surprising so far that few publishers or alcohol manufacturers have made their voices heard in public to support and guide retailers.