There were renewed calls last night for health warnings on alcohol as figures showed the West Midlands has one of the country's highest drink-related death rates.
Alcohol is killing more people than ever before, according to official figures released yesterday, and MPs warned that the worrying trend demonstrated the need to end Britain's binge- drinking culture.
It also led to repeated demands for tougher laws forcing brewers to spell out on cans and bottles the health risks of drinking too much.
The figures from National Statistics show the number of alcohol-related deaths in Britain increased by ten per cent in three years, from 5,970 in 2001 to 6,580.
The problem is far more serious in some regions than others. More people are dying from alcohol-related illnesses in the West Midlands than in London, the South-east, the South-west, the East Midlands or Yorkshire and Humberside.
Sandwell has the biggest alcohol problem in the region, with almost 20 alcohol-related deaths each year per 100,000 people, compared with a national average of 10.9.
In the West Midlands as a whole, there are 12.5 deaths caused by alcohol per 100,000 people.
The other worst-affected areas include Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton and Redditch.
And in Birmingham, the number of alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people is 15.8.
Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from an alcohol-related illness in the West Midlands.
MP Ross Cranston (Lab Dudley North), chairman of the All Party Group on Alcohol Misuse in the House of Commons, said drinking patterns had changed dramatically for the worse.
He said: "We have got to change the whole culture. We have a massive social problem which leads in the most serious cases to death.
"Changing the culture is easier said than done. But it comes down to the industry and the way they market products.
"It's not like it was in the 1970s when you would go out to the pub as a social occasion. Now it is about getting drunk."
A spokeswoman for Birmingham & Black Country Health Authority said measures had been introduced to encourage sensible drinking, including employing staff with specialist training in many hospitals.
Alcohol-related deaths have increased steadily in recent years prompting growing concerns from health campaigners and putting pressure on health services.