Letter: Tobacco battle

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Tobacco battle

Sir: Your headline "Lung cancer toll worsened by attitudes" (18 November) with the suggestion that anti-smoking campaigns add to the sufferings of smokers, distracts attention from the fact that their sufferings are caused by the tobacco industry, aided by the press, the advertising industry and governments which surrender to its financial power.

We have known for more than 40 years that cigarette smoking is the cause of the worldwide increase in deaths from lung cancer which followed the spread of this habit. As long ago as January 1953 the British public was informed of this in a BBC television programme in which I took part. Rational application of this knowledge could have led to dramatic reduction in new cases of lung cancer, but because of failure of appropriate action by individuals and by governments, this had not occurred.

Nevertheless, we must not despair, but continue to publicise the fact that smoking greatly increases the risks of lung cancer, and of some other common lung and heart diseases. Are we to desist from this effort on the specious excuse that we must spare the feelings of those affected by smoking- induced diseases? In my book, this would be another surrender to market forces: of course, to the benefit of the tobacco industry and its hangers- on.

Professor J G SCADDING

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire