New figures showing alcohol consumption is on the decline provide strong evidence that calls for increased taxation are misguided, the Wine & Spirit Trade Association said this week.

Only 23% of men drank more than 21 units a week in 2006, compared with 29% in 2000, National Statistics found. This compared with 12% of women drinking more then their recommended 14 units in 2006, down from 17% in 2000.

"The message of responsible drinking is continuing to get out as the long-term drinking trends on alcohol consumption continue to improve," said WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles.

"It is clear that the vast majority of people are drinking sensibly and should not be punished for the sins of the few."

Industry watchdog The Portman Group, also welcomed the report.

"More people are now aware of the risks associated with harmful drinking and have changed their drinking accordingly," said chief executive David Poley.