Letter: Stop tinkering and just ban tobacco

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The Independent Online
Stop tinkering and just ban tobacco

Sir: In your editorial (20 May) you suggest that Labour's instinct is for blanket bans. As regards smoking, the Health Secretary's proposals are no such thing. I agree that there is something dishonest about making conduct associated with cigarettes such as advertising or sponsoring racing cars illegal but refusing to contemplate proscribing the action itself.

Tobacco smoking does more harm to health than any other external agent that we can identify. Our descendants will be completely bemused that a government in the 1990s allowed cigarettes to be sold while also knowing the health havoc that smoking produces. In Southend we have a large lung cancer study and in the 1990s we have already had over 1,500 deaths from lung cancer and this is in a population of just over 300,000.

What is required is a proper government programme aimed at producing a total ban on cigarette sales. In order to minimise the social consequences in terms of jobs, this programme could be set over 20 years. This would give companies the opportunity to diversify and employees to find new employment. Acts such as banning advertising and sponsorship of sports, although steps in the right direction, are in fact only tinkering at the edges.


Consultant Chest Physician

Heart and Chest Clinic

Southend Hospital

Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex