SCOTS are drinking a litre of pure alcohol more every year than they were 20 years ago, according to the latest drink-related mortality figures.

In 2011, 11.2 litres of pure alcohol were sold per adult in Scotland, 20% higher than in England and Wales and equivalent to 21.6 units per adult per week. The difference has been blamed on higher off-trade sales of lower priced spirits in Scotland, particularly vodka.

Alcohol sales in Scotland have also increased 10% compared to 1994, rising from 10.2 litres of pure alcohol per adult per year to the current 11.2 litres.

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However, the figures also revealed that the gap in alcohol deaths north and south of the Border is continuing to close, although rates of drink-related mortality in Scotland still remain around twice as high as in England and Wales.

The report, published by NHS Health Scotland, shows that the number of Scots men dying as result of alcohol consumption in 2010 fell to 32.1 per 100,000 compared to a peak of 40.1 in 2003.

The figure is slightly up on 2009, when it had fallen to a low of 30 per 100,000 – and is up dramatically compared to when records began in 1991, with 11.9 male deaths per 100,000 in Scotland – but nonetheless continues the overall downward trend from 2003.

The cross-border mortality gap has narrowed among women. Female alcohol deaths peaked in Scotland in 2006 at 17.3 per 100,000 women and fell to 13.3 by 2010.

This compares to a tiny fall in England and Wales over the same period, from 7.8 per 100,000 to 7.5, meaning that the difference in female mortality north and south of the Border has fallen from 2.2 times as many Scots women suffering alcohol-related deaths compared to those in England and Wales to 1.7 times as many as of 2010.