Alcohol is linked to one in every 20 deaths in Scotland, and every three hours someone dies from an alcohol-related condition, new figures show.
Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said: “Scotland is awash with alcohol and the consequences are crippling the health service.
“The scale of the problem needs radical solutions. A wide ranging strategy is essential”.
The news will add to the criticism of Labour’s all-day drinking laws which were introduced in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Government had hoped the laws would create a ‘continental café style’ drinking culture. But according to the Local Government Association most police authorities, hospitals and councils have found that the new laws have failed to curb alcohol-related incidents.
Supermarkets have also been heavily criticised for selling cheap booze.
Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: “The evidence shows that the most effective way to reduce consumption, and consequently harm, is to increase the price of alcohol.
“Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol would increase the price of the cheapest, most harmful drinks which appeal to heavier drinkers e.g. strong white ciders and cheap spirits.”
In April Martin Plant, Professor of Addiction Studies at the University of the West of England, said: “Supermarkets at the moment are displaying the morality of the crack dealer.”
“Cheap alcohol kills people,” he added.
The Scottish figures took into account conditions which were partly attributable to alcohol unlike previous figures which only looked at those wholly attributable to drinking booze.
More than 25% of deaths in men aged 35-44 were linked to alcohol and the deaths of a fifth of women in the same age group were also associated with alcohol.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “This research shows that alcohol misuse is taking an even higher toll on Scotland’s health than previously thought.
“Drinking alcohol is part of Scottish culture, but it’s clear that many people are drinking too much and damaging their health in the process.
She added: “The Scottish Government has made crystal clear our determination to get to grips with it.”
A minimum price to be set on a unit of alcohol will come into force next year.