OXFORDSHIRE has been ranked as one of the healthiest places in England.

A website launched yesterday shows the county scores well for the number of avoidable premature deaths recorded in 2009 to 2011.

The county’s prosperity means it is 22nd healthiest out of 150 areas and seventh for heart disease and stroke and 40th for cancer.

It also ranked 14th for liver disease 41st for lung disease, strongly linked to smoking rates.

Public Health England released the figures to start a “national debate” on how premature deaths can be prevented.

The four major killers are responsible for 75 per cent of preventable deaths in England, it said.

It is hoped the information will help people change lifestyles – such as giving up smoking – and seek early diagnosis.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the different rates are “shocking” and “cannot continue unchecked”.

He said: “I want areas to use the data released today to identify local public health challenges like smoking, drinking and obesity.”

Denise Cadd quit her 40-a-day smoking habit five years ago and said she feels better after 23 years addicted to nicotine.

The 41-year-old mum-of-three said: “I have lost weight, I feel better, I am fitter, I do netball now. Everything is just much better.

“I don’t think about smoking. It is not giving up, you just stopped doing something.”

Yet she said the NHS Stop Smoking Service – which offers medical treatments like inhalers and patches – did not work for her.

She said: “That is just swapping your cigarette for something else.

“I know a lot of people who give up on the patch and crave for a cigarette every day.”

Instead she went on a one day, £125 course that saw addicts chat about their habit and told: go outside and have your last cigarette.

The Steeple Aston financial controller said: “Why not try and concentrate on the stronger part of the body that overrides everything, the mind?”

Zoé Patrick, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Conservative-run Oxfordshire County Council and chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, urged caution.

She said: “Using it out of context to create any sort of national league table dangerously oversimplifies matters and ignores the very complex socio-economic and cultural factors that affect the premature mortality rate.”

Since April 1 funding decisions on programmes aimed at preventing poor health has passed from the NHS to Oxfordshire County Council.

Dr Jonathan McWilliam, the council’s director of public health, had yet to respond to a request for comment.