One in four 'drinking too much'
More than a quarter of drinkers exceed healthy limits every week, making us a nation of irresponsible boozers, researchers have said.
A survey by the North West Public Health Observatory showed illnesses caused by alcohol rose rapidly during the last five years.
The study also showed northerners were the hardest drinkers but the most alcohol-related crimes were committed in London.
The academics, based at Liverpool John Moores University's Centre for Public Health, published their "Local Alcohol Profiles for England (Lape 2010)" on Tuesday.
Professor Mark Bellis, the observatory's director, said: "The price we pay for turning a blind eye to the real extent of alcohol abuse across England is reflected in the new Local Alcohol Profiles for England and it is a price that is paid especially by the poorest communities.
"The English death toll from alcohol now exceeds fifteen and a half thousand people every year.
"It is time to recognise that we are not a population of responsible drinkers with just a handful of irresponsible individuals ruining it for others.
"Over one in four drinkers exceed weekly limits according to national surveys and alcohol sales figures suggest the number is much higher.
"At weekends, by the early morning hours our city centres do not have just a few drunk individuals in - actually most people are drunk yet continue to be able to buy alcohol despite such sales being illegal.
"We need to see the real cost of alcohol reflected in the price it is sold at and the warnings about the dangers that alcohol represents not relegated to a tiny corner in alcohol adverts, but written large enough for people to recognise the seriousness of the risks."