20 AUGUST 1988, Page 5

. . . and statistics

`COVERT medical tests . . . [show] smokers prefer cannabis to tobacco . . . People attending the accident and emergency department at Hackney Hospital have been routinely tested . . . 32.4 per cent . . . are cannabis users, while only 31.6 per cent use tobacco.' (Time Out, 3-10 August) IT IS abstird to say smokers 'prefer' cannabis to tobacco when the most common way of consuming cannabis is by mixing it with tobacco. A more accurate distinction would be between those who prefer tobacco by itself and those who prefer it mixed with canna- bis. Second, the catchment area for Hackney Hospital is not representative of society as a whole. Third, by testing only attendants of the accident/ emergency department the researchers may well have chosen a sample over- representative of cannabis consumers.

(£20 goes to John Lowry, of West Kensington.) Send examples to `. and statistics'; £20 for the best example published; £10 for every other pub- lished — the first opened if two or more cover the same example.