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Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that despite what the government keeps telling us we are not a nation of drunks, and people with manual or routine jobs actually drink less than those with professional or managerial ones.

Not only that, but average alcohol consumption is also falling.

In 2006 the average British adult drank 13.5 units of alcohol a week. By 2008 this had fallen to 12.2 units, continuing a downward trend which began in 2002.

One-fifth of managers and professionals (19 per cent) said they had drunk alcohol on five or more days in the previous week, compared to 11 per cent of manual workers.

Heavy drinking, by ONS standards, is a young person's game, but those over 45 are more likely to drink every day.

Drinking more than eight units in a session, if you're male, or six if female, counts as heavy drinking. For 16-24 year olds 27 per cent admitted to this, versus 23 per cent of 25-44 year-olds.

Smoking remains at its lowest level - 21 per cent of adults, with a quarter of these smoking more than 20 cigs a day. Smoking is more common in Scotland with 24 per cent.

Only 14 per cent of managerial households smoke, compared to 29 per cent of manual or routine households.

Separate figures released today show that alcohol-related deaths are still increasing for British men, but seem to be stabilising for women.

Since the early 90s rates have doubled from 6.7 deaths per 100,000 people to 13.6 per cent in 2008. For men this equates to 18.7 deaths per 100,000 compared to 8.7 per 100,000 for women.

In 2008 5,999 men died an alcohol-related death against 3,032 women.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We are going to be looking closely at the increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths at a time when the amount people are drinking is reducing.

"No one thing will solve the complex challenge of alcohol abuse, which is why the Government is taking action on all fronts including better information, banning irresponsible promotions (such as women drinking for free) and treatment, advice and support.

"Yesterday, Public Health Minister, Gillian Merron, launched the 'Alcohol Effects' campaign with three leading health charities - the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and the Stroke Association. This campaign highlights the unseen damage that can be caused by regularly drinking more than the NHS advises." ®

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