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British Report Links Cigarette Smoking to Lung Cancer

Mar. 7, 1962 - “Cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer” and probably contributes to the development of other diseases, the Royal College of Physicians reported in London today. The report said that health hazards associated with cigarette smoking were so great that preventive steps should be taken promptly. The college, a 444-year-old organization of the élite of British medicine, called on the Government to curb the rising consumption of tobacco, especially cigarettes. It recommended educating the public to the hazards of smoking, restricting tobacco advertising, strengthening restrictions on the sale of tobacco to children, and increasing cigarette taxes. The report, which went on sale in subways, train stations, and bookshops, was presented by Sir Robert Platt, the 61-year-old president of the college. “Why is there such reluctance to believe the facts?” Sir Robert asked, in presenting the report. “First of all,” he said, “because we never like accepting unpleasant facts. Secondly, because very big financial interests are involved. But thirdly, and most importantly, many people who smoke cigarettes want to go on smoking.” Sir Robert suggested that people falling in these categories consider the evidence and “don’t try to pretend that it isn’t there or it isn’t true or it isn’t proved.” The report stated that pipe and cigar smokers were found to stand “far less risk” than cigarette smokers, probably because of less inhalation. The tobacco industry responded quickly, asserting that the report relied on old data and contained long-disputed discrepancies.

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