WEST Oxfordshire has the highest number of smokers in the county, according to new data.

Nearly 14 per cent of the district’s population are regular smokers – significantly higher than neighbouring areas.

In Cherwell, 11.6 per cent of the population smoke, while 10.4 per cent of residents in South Oxfordshire and 9.7 per cent in Vale of White Horse are smokers.

Oxford City has the lowest number of smokers with nine per cent.

At 10.8 per cent overall, the county has a lower number of smokers than the average for the South East (13.7 per cent) and England (14.9 per cent).

The data from the Office of National Statistics also shows that in West Oxfordshire there is a higher proportion of male smokers, with 16.7 per cent of men in the district smoking compared to just 10.6 per cent of women.

The higher proportion of male smokers is also seen in Cherwell (12.4 per cent male compared to 10.8 per cent female) and Vale of White Horse (11.3 per cent compared to 8.2 per cent).

Interestingly, the demographics are reversed in Oxford City with more than double the number of female smokers in the area than male (5.2 per cent male smokers compared to 12.6 per cent female smokers).

The figures reveal that some areas and indeed some demographics are receiving the anti-smoking message and others aren’t.

For instance in 2011, the ONS figures show Cherwell had the highest number of smokers, however over the last six years more have quit and fewer have taken up the habit compared to West Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire County Council said it welcomed the statistics showing the decline in smokers across the county, however, urged caution when examining the district figures.

Spokesman Paul Smith said: “Smoking tobacco remains the nation’s biggest killer, with 80,000 death a year.

“There is still much to do both nationally and locally to achieve the Government ambition of the first-ever smoke-free generation in England, as outlined in the Tobacco Control Plan for England.

“While our services continue to meet the aim of helping as many people who smoke to quit, we know there is more work to be done.”

Mr Smith said the council was working to reduce health inequalities by identifying priority populations and to provide them with effective support to quit.

Speaking about the district data, he added: “The nature of the survey methodology and sample size is not a full 'head count' of smokers and as such there needs to be a level of caution in looking at the data when we compare the smaller district populations.”

For more information on the Local Stop Smoking Service contact Smokefreelife Oxfordshire at smokefreelifeoxfordshire.co.uk or call 0800 634 9139