MORE than 60 deaths caused by alcohol have been recorded in East Renfrewshire over the past five years, it has been revealed.

The tragic toll is included in new figures released by National Records of Scotland (NRS) that cover 2017 to 2021.

With a total of 61 fatalities in that period, East Renfrewshire had the fifth lowest loss of life from alcohol-specific conditions out of the 32 council areas across Scotland.

Only the Shetland Islands, Western Isles, Orkney Islands and Clackmannanshire had fewer deaths.

Campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to produce an "emergency response" to alcohol harm in the same way it has pledged to tackle drug deaths.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Each of these deaths is a life cut tragically short and leaves behind family members and friends suffering their loss.

"These impacts are experienced unequally, with many more people dying in our poorest communities. We seem to almost accept this toll as inevitable but we should not. Each death can be prevented.

"Action must include investment in support for those who already have alcohol problems but we must also redouble our efforts to prevent the next generation of drinkers developing patterns of drinking that damage their health."

The highest number of alcohol-specific deaths over the past five years was recorded in Glasgow, where 826 lives were lost, followed by North Lanarkshire (498), Edinburgh (462), Fife (362) and South Lanarkshire (357).

The new figures also show that, after adjusting for age, the rate of mortality from alcohol-specific deaths in East Renfrewshire over this period was 12.5 deaths per 100,000 residents – the fourth lowest in Scotland.

Inverclyde had the worst death rate at 31.7, followed by Glasgow (31), West Dunbartonshire (30.6) and North Lanarkshire (29.1).

Across Scotland as a whole, deaths from alcohol last year hit the highest level since 2008.

A total of 1,245 people died from alcohol-specific causes in 2021, which is an increase of five per cent on the number recorded in 2020.

The national rate of mortality from alcohol-specific causes was 22.3 deaths per 100,000 people.

Two-thirds of those who died from conditions caused by alcohol were male, while the average age of deaths was around 59 for women and almost 60 for men.

Public Health Minister Maree Todd said the Scottish Government is committed to tackling the problem.

She added: "No-one should die as a result of alcohol consumption and my thoughts go out to all family and loved ones affected.

"These figures show that Scotland continues to have a problematic relationship with alcohol and we are determined to do all we can to address that.

"The introduction of minimum unit pricing has helped reduce alcohol sales to their lowest on record but we are determined to do even more to tackle the scale of alcohol-specific deaths.

"That is why we are working on initiatives that will support communities to address harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption.

"These include the review of alcohol brief interventions with Public Health Scotland and supporting the UK Government on reviewing and updating clinical guidelines for alcohol treatment."