North Yorkshire schools are to be targeted as part of a county-wide campaign to cut alcohol abuse.

Public health officials are concerned that a quarter of the local population is putting their health at risk by drinking.

The new purge will include warning pupils of the risks and a clamp-down on businesses who flout the law by selling to under-age customers.

Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive member for public health, said: “In North Yorkshire, although around one in seven adults abstains from alcohol, around a quarter of all people who drink are estimated to be drinking at harmful or hazardous levels.

“Alcohol-related hospital admissions are increasing year on year, and nearly 200 people die in North Yorkshire every year as a result of alcohol.”

There was also concern binge drinking was fuelling domestic violence, sex crimes and anti-social behaviour, he added.

He continued: “For too many people, harmful or hazardous drinking has become normal. We need to shift that culture so that low risk drinking becomes the norm.”

The strategy, drawn up by the County Council’s health team, also aims to boost specialist services and NHS checks on high risk groups, particularly in the 40-74 age bracket.

It will also look a minimum pricing policy for alcohol and if soft drinks can be made cheaper in pubs.