The stark figure, recently released by the Department of Health (DoH), has prompted a local doctor to urge smokers to kick the habit sooner rather than later.
According to statistics from the DoH, from 2012 to 2016 smoking caused 32 deaths in Strabane. This makes smoking the biggest cause of death in Strabane, with the council area ranked second worst for smoking deaths across the North, second only to Belfast.
According to Castlederg GP Dr Brendan O’Hare these mortality figures come as no surprise.
“Smoking is a scourge, simple as that,” he said. “These figures are unsurprising, and I have seen alot of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) locally – and some of them are as young as 30.
“Overall, 95 per-cent of the cases are directly caused by smoking, which destroys people’s lungs making even minor exercise, such as climbing stairs, difficult. There are absolutely no health benefits to smoking and worryingly, increasing numbers of females are taking up the habit in an attempt to stay slim.”
With this, Dr O’Hare urges smokers to take advantage of the help which is available to stop smoking.
“I urge smokers to visit their GP as soon as possible. There are any amount of services available locally and help is widely available. It’s all about taking the first step.”
Last May, a nation-wide campaign was implemented that upped the price of cigarettes and re-branded cigarettes with plain packaging in an attempt to discourage smoking. According to Dr O’Hare, this was a step in the right direction.
“Overall, the more unappealing smoking is, the better,” he said. “There is no glamour in smoking and this is reflected in the packaging. There is certainly nothing glamorous about coughing your lungs up every morning and not even being able to climb a flight of stairs.”