Letter: Anti-anti-anti-smoking

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Letter: Anti-anti-anti-smoking

Sir: Virginia Ironside has become as big an anti-anti- smoking bore as any of the anti-smoking bores whom she rightly castigates (Dilemmas, 1 January). Bores are, by definition, tedious, but Ms Ironside is dangerous also, because she succeeds in giving the impression that smoking really does not matter - or is even to be encouraged.

But it does matter. Your article "Fall in cancer deaths overshadowed by rise in number of cases" (31 December) says "The sharp fall in lung cancer deaths among men reflects the fall in smoking that began over 20 years ago" and evidence just keeps on coming: this very week the British Medical Journal reports an authoritative new study, "Passive Smoking. The Health Impact", which indicates that passive smoking, among other unpleasant things, "increases the risk of lung cancer, and as a result, leads to the deaths of an estimated 2,000 non-smokers each year" within the EU.

On New Year's Day, of all days, it seems a bit unfair for Virginia Ironside to undermine anyone's resolve to give up smoking. God knows it's hard enough without that: and it is distressing to learn that to the costs of smoking must now be added those of candles, matches and cans of deodorant spray to render our living rooms wholesome again. Especially as they don't work.

DAVID GIRLING

Newcastle upon Tyne

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