Doctors have called for higher taxes on alcohol and for tough new laws to be introduced to stop “irresponsible” marketing and promotions.

The British Medical Association's hard-hitting report, Alcohol Misuse: Tackling the UK Epidemic, also criticised the government for working too closely with the drinks industry.

“Recent governments have worked too closely with the alcohol industry and have pursued policies of deregulation and liberalisation regarding alcohol control,” said Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA. “The government approach has led to increased consumption levels and alcohol-related problems and demonstrates a failure in the political drive to improve public health and order.”

Meanwhile, Tesco's calls for the government to ban the sale of cut-price alcohol have been branded hypocritical by health campaigners, according to the Times.