The north east has the second highest rate of alcohol-related deaths in England, latest figures reveal.
New figures by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that while death rates in recent years have stabilised, twice as many people in the north east are suffering an alcohol-related death compared to 20 years ago.
There are 22.3 deaths per 100,000 men in the north east, compared to the England average of 17.8 per 100,000.
For women, the average in the north east is 11.6 deaths per 100,000, compared to the England average of 8.7 deaths per 100,000.
Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, said: “It’s especially saddening that so many people in England die from alcohol-related causes before they have reached the age of 55.
“While this latest data is shocking enough, these statistics are also a relatively conservative estimate, with the true figure likely to be higher.
“It’s no coincidence that as death rates rise, cheap alcohol has continued to be more accessible. Alcohol in the UK is now 61 per cent more affordable than it was in 1980, but the costs to our health and the wider economy are rising.
“To save lives, we must make alcohol less affordable. People are dying because alcohol is far too cheap, it’s available at all hours and it’s far too heavily promoted.
“A minimum unit price of at least 50p will make cheap, strong alcohol less affordable to the vulnerable, younger and heavier drinkers who are more likely to drink it and suffer the consequences.”