11 MAY 2002, Page 31

Diabolical tobacco ads

From Mr Guy Be/lairs Sir: Your leading article (4 May) on tobacco misses a vital ethical distinction. As John Stuart Mill pointed out, anyone has the right to do something foolish, such as smoking, so long as he does no hurt to anyone else — if his smoke does not harm or annoy others, for instance.

However, to encourage someone else to do something foolish or dangerous is diabolical. All advertising, sponsorship or indirect encouragement of tobacco, ecstasy, etc. is therefore totally inadmissible in a compassionate society.

Any suggestion that publicity does not sell cigarettes is ridiculous. Are the hardheaded men who make good livings from slowly killing people spending millions for philanthropic motives?

Guy Bellairs bellairs(ri,iee.org.uk