14 NOVEMBER 1970, Page 20

Where there's smoke

Sir: There is more talk of restri- tive legislation on cigarette smok- ing: Sir Gerald Nabarro (a mem- ber, incidentally, of the party which promised to get government off our backs!) intends introducing a pri- vate member's bill to that effect. It seems to me (and, I hope, to you) that moderate smokers are getting a pretty poor deal. We are being bamboozled out of a pleasurable habit by a killjoy lobby, whose rising hysteria is based on unproven charges. All--sadly reminiscent of the old prohibitionist days in America.

The present anti-smoking drive is surely not so much a campaign as an exercise in national (and. via wilt), international) brain-washing. All too frequently statistics are used which allegedly point to smok- ing when the origin of the cancer is elsewhere than in lungs or throat. As someone truly said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics, an order of priority often overlooked. In fact if one totted up the statistics used by every pressure group (mor- bidly) interested in various causes of death, the estimated mortality would undoubtedly exceed the ac- tual by a considerable margin.

In any case, how horrifically large is the proportion of people involved in all this hullabaloo? If we use the Royal College of Physician's own figures (in their last report—and another is due shortly) it amounts to no more than a mere 0.25 of 1 per cent of smokers. Such zeal for our wel- fare (?) could with much greater justification be used against drink- ing (God forbid), which is far more of a social and economic evil or, for that matter, against sugar, which is as bad for diabetics as nicotine is for people with exist- ing chest ailments. (Incidentally, in , a recent lecture by police at Bath University, one reason put forward why the young are taking to 'pot' is because the present heavy duty on fags and drinks has put the latter in a far higher price bracket.) George Nichol! Saxons. Turleigh, Bradford-on- Avon. Wilts.