Alcohol taxes in the UK are among the highest in Europe, threatening jobs and leading to less booze being drunk, new figures have shown.
The average price of a pint in a pub has now broken through the £3 barrier for the first time, partly due to "huge" tax increases, said the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
Its report revealed that alcohol consumption increased by 0.6% last year, but was 11% lower than in 2004, and was below the European average.
Drinkers in this country paid the second highest taxes in the European Union on beer and wine and the fourth highest on spirits, said the BBPA.
The gap between alcohol taxes in the UK and other European countries grew last year, with those in this country eight times higher than in France and 11 times higher than in Germany, said the report.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "When it comes to alcohol, we need a debate based on the hard facts. Tax rates have soared to unprecedented levels at a time when household budgets are stretched. Huge, 35% rises in beer taxes in the past three years have been deeply damaging to British brewers, who operate one of our most innovative and successful manufacturing industries.
"The number of those drinking above health guidelines has been falling for a number of years and industry is rightly investing in responsible drinking campaigns - yet some still demand ever- increasing restrictions and taxes. It's time the debate caught up with the hard facts."
The North East is the cheapest region for beer, pub wine costs least in the Midlands while Wales is best for spirits, according to the study.