Britain's influential Royal College of Physicians estimated on Tuesday (5 January) that nearly 30,000 people die each year in Britain as a direct result of smoking cigarettes.
Britain's influential Royal College of Physicians estimated on Tuesday (5 January) that nearly 30,000 people die each year in Britain as a direct result of smoking cigarettes. In a report, "Smoking and Health Now", published on Tuesday, the College also claimed that 90 percent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. These claims are supported by the results of scientific tests on the effects of cigarette smoke and nicotine on mice. The College called on the Government to take a series of measures aimed at reducing smoking in Britain.
The report likens cigarettes smoking to taking a ticket in a lottery called "Death in the next ten years". A heavy smoker who has 25 or more cigarettes a day has one chance in 22 of drawing his death ticket. A non-smoker has once chance in 75.
The chief causes, according to the report, are lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and coronary heart disease. If British smoking habits continue, the College forecast, 45,000-50,000 people will die from lung cancer each year in the 1980's.
The College, founded in 1518, made ten recommendations to the government. Among them was a ban on all cigarette advertising and gift coupon schemes and the suggestion that warning notices be printed on cigarette packets, as in the United States. The report also proposed that the Government reduce taxes on less harmful forms of smoking - cigars, pipes and low-nicotine content cigarettes.
The report concluded that the issue was quite simple: "Government and Parliament have to decide between an easy source of revenue and the preservation of the lives, health and productive capacity of the people they serve." Government revenue from tobacco amounts to 1,000 million sterling (2,400 million dollars) a year.
The report is the second by the Royal College of Physicians on smoking. A report published in 1962 was also strong in its condemnation of cigarette smoking. This was followed by some drop in cigarette sales and the opening of some smoking clinics, but the improvement didn't last. Several Bills were introduced in Parliament aimed at reducing cigarette consumption, but with little success. The only real result of the anti-smoking lobby has been the prohibition of cigarette advertising on television.
The 1962 report did, however, lead to more investigation of the dangers of smoking. The Royal College thinks animal experiments continue to establish and clarify links between cigarettes and cancer. Mice exposed quite infrequently to filtered tobacco smoke get cancer after two years.
One doctor emphasised that now the facts have been made known, the real decision to save the health of the public is in the hands of the public itself: