Letter: The strange affair of the Smee report

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The Independent Online
Sir: Is it a coincidence that the long-awaited report by Dr Clive Smee on the effects of tobacco advertising bans will not now be published until Wednesday (28 October), despite the fact that it has, we understand, been on the desk of Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, for almost four weeks?

Is it a coincidence that, on the same day, Mrs Bottomley meets with the Select Committee on Health, which has undertaken an inquiry into the proposed EC directive on advertising tobacco?

Will the committee be in a position to advise Mrs Bottomley what line Britain should take on the directive on 13 November, when they will not have seen Dr Smee's report?

Will Dr Smee's report vary dramatically from the leaked version, which suggested that tobacco advertising bans can reduce levels of smoking by up to 5 per cent ('Children: victims of passive smoking', 13 October)?

Is the system working properly if vital evidence is not available to the Committee until just hours before (or even after?) they advise the Secretary of State?

How many of our children will die in years to come from tobacco disease because Britain continues to duck and dodge the issue of smoking and the health of this


Yours faithfully,


King's College Hospital

London, SE5

23 October

The writer is chairman of Doctors for Tobacco Laws.