An attack on RTDs by a political party has been dismissed by an alcohol trade body in the UK.

Late last week, the Conservative party said that it would introduce heavier taxation on what it termed "problem alcohol", to quell the growing binge drinking epidemic in the country. The tax rise would focus on super-strength beer and cider, as well as RTDs.

But the Gin and Vodka Association has attacked the Conservatives' comments as being "counter-factual".

"Alcopops (RTDs) account for less than 2% of total alcohol consumed in terms of pure alcohol and for around 2% of expenditure," the trade body said. "There has already been a 65% increase in excise duties on spirits-based RTDs in the 2002 Budget.

"Spirits-based RTDs continue to be in significant decline, so any increase in so-called binge drinking should not be laid at its door."

The association pointed to Government figures, which show a drop in spirits RTDs of 19% in the last twelve months and 24% in the year before that. At the same time, the strength of several RTDs has been reduced, the body said.

"RTDs are on average produced at a lower strength than directly competing bottled products such as beer, lager and cider but are significantly more expensive on a pro rata basis."