Two sets of official figures released on Tuesday indicate the North East suffers from the highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in the country.
According to figures published by both Public Health England and the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the rates of alcohol-related deaths in the region are higher for both men and women than any other region in England.
The Local Alcohol Profiles for England (LAPE), released by Public Health England, show there were a total of 1,424 alcohol-related deaths in the North East in 2015.
Worryingly, this means that the North East has a rate which is 22 per cent higher than the national average for alcohol-related deaths. Other indicators show a similar pattern, with the death rate from chronic liver disease 40 per cent higher than the England average.
The England-wide LAPE figures show alcohol contributed to 23,500 deaths across the country as a whole, an increase on 2014 figures.
While the ONS alcohol-related death figures for England are lower, they do not take account of conditions such as heart disease, strokes and a number of alcohol-related cancers.
Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is calling on the Government to implement measures which will help tackle some of the most serious alcohol-related harms in its next Budget on March 8.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: “It’s clearly worrying that the North East is showing significantly higher rates of alcohol-related mortality than the rest of England.
“We know that often the poorest people in society are among the worst affected by alcohol-related harms and the North East suffers more than some of the more affluent parts of the country. We need to see measures introduced which urgently take steps to tackle these worrying inequalities.
“The Government should use the upcoming Budget to raise the alcohol duty on very cheap, strong cider.
“We also need a minimum unit price for alcohol, which wouldn’t affect pub prices, but would ensure drinks aren’t sold at pocket money prices.”