The drinks industry is uniting against calls for stricter regulations, higher pricing and a pre-watershed advertising ban.
Trade bodies including the Gin & Vodka Association, the Portman Group and the Wine & Spirit Trade Association have joined forces to defend the industry against accusations levelled at it by the Alcohol Health Alliance, a coalition of 24 health organisations lobbying the government to take action to curb alcohol consumption.
The move comes in the wake of the alliance's report this week highlighting an increase in alcohol-related disease and deaths. It has called for a ban on advertising alcohol before 9pm, higher taxation and a reduction in the drink driving limit, as well as a high-profile campaign to demonstrate the dangers of drinking.
However, the industry bodies claimed alcohol consumption in the UK had fallen 3% in 2006 and questioned some of the alliance's recommendations.
"International comparisons prove that higher prices would not deter binge drinkers or people addicted to alcohol," said David Poley, Portman Group chairman.
"As for advertising, television isn't what it used to be and effectively what we have now is television on demand, which makes 9pm a fairly arbitrary figure."
He added: "Audience profiling, which the industry currently uses, provides an effective control on alcohol advertising as it allows companies to target programmes with adult viewers."