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20 August 2015, 12:32
Alcohol-related deaths in Scotland rose last year to about 20 a week, according to new figures.
There were 1,152 such deaths in 2014, a 5% increase on the previous year, the National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures showed.
However, it was the third lowest annual total since 1997 (behind 2012 and 2013).
More than twice as many men as women died, with 784 male and 368 female deaths.
Health minister Maureen Watt said: "This increase in alcohol-related deaths is disappointing, particularly given the decreasing trend we have seen in recent years.
"Alcohol deaths in Scotland are almost double those in the early 1990s.
"The 5% increase in 2014, following a 2% rise the previous year, shows that even though significant progress has been made since 2006 far more needs to be done.
"There is no doubt that a key factor in alcohol-related harm is affordability. This is why minimum unit pricing is such an important part of our package of measures to tackle the availability of cheap, high-strength alcohol that causes so much damage in our communities.
"Our Alcohol Framework contains over 40 measures to reduce consumption, support families and communities, promote positive attitudes and positive choices, and improve treatment and support services.
"The Framework has been shown to have an impact but while we're still seeing around 20 people a week die because of alcohol there can be no room for complacency, and that is why we are working on the next phase of our alcohol strategy, which will be ready in 2016.''
The largest number of deaths was in the 45-59 age group, with 482 dying, 10 more than in 2013.