North-east health bosses have urged the Government to "act quickly and decisively" on cheap alcohol by introducing a minimum price per unit of 50p.
Thirteen directors of public health have signed the open letter, which claims cheap drink is having a "devastating effect" on the north-east.
Research by alcohol awareness group Balance found that alcohol is available in that region at 12p per unit with cans of lager sold for 22p and 70cl bottles of vodka for just £6.98.
Alcohol-specific hospital admissions are 62% higher in the north-east than the national average.
The letter states: "We know that low prices are linked to greater consumption. We also know that the more we drink, the greater the health risk.
"Apart from the risks to public health, we believe that the cost to the NHS in the North East is simply unsustainable."
Calling on Sheffield University research, the health directors said a 50p minimum price per unit is likely to reduce the alcohol consumption of young people, cut crimes by 46,000 and save the country £1bn every year in alcohol-related costs.
"The political leadership that was shown on smoking in public places needs to be shown on alcohol too," concluded the letter.
Among the directors of public health who have signed the letter are Sue Milner (Northumberland), Nonnie Crawford (Sunderland), Meng Khaw (Newcastle, North Tyneside) and Miriam Davidson (Darlington).