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Wednesday, March 11, 1998 Published at 19:13 GMT


Report links passive smoking to cot deaths
image: [ Passive smoking is responsible for 80 cot deaths a year, the report says ]
Passive smoking is responsible for 80 cot deaths a year, the report says

Passive smoking does cause lung cancer and heart disease, according to a new report.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth Calman speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live (3'03")
The study also found that children whose parents smoke were twice as likely to be the victims of sudden infant death syndrome.

Experts on the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, which carried out the study, called on ministers to curb smoking in thousands of public places.

Their report, published to coincide with national No Smoking Day, is the first major study by a government committee on tobacco and health for 10 years.

[ image: Kenneth Calman: wants curbs on smoking]
Kenneth Calman: wants curbs on smoking
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth Calman, said: "The message is absolutely clear. Passive smoking is bad for your health."

The findings are expected to be fed into a White Paper on Smoking Reduction due to be published later this year.

It found that adults faced a 20% increased chance of suffering lung cancer or heart disease and that about 80 cot deaths a year could be traced to maternal smoking.

Dr Vivien Nathanson of the BMA speaks to BBC Radio 4's PM programme (2' 18")
The report's findings are published just days after the tobacco group BAT industries claimed that a World Health Organisation report had found passive smoking did not increase the risk of contracting lung cancer.

But BAT was accused of staging a "wholly misleading" publicity stunt when WHO announced its report did show a link between passive smoking and lung cancer.

The committee said the government should take "effective" action to reduce the harmful effects of smoking, including banning smoking in public service buildings and on public transport.

The report said: "There is an importance and urgency with the smoking problem that needs to be recognised by both the Government and the public."

Other recommendations include:

  • Increasing public awareness about the risks of smoking in the home, with a specific focus on breathing difficulties in children, and the risks of passive smoking on foetal development and infant death syndrome.
  • Raising the price of tobacco each year to discourage people, especially young people, from smoking, and banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
  • Making Nicotine Replacement Therapy more widely available, possibly through NHS prescription.

Evidence outlined in the new report also showed that half of all smokers are killed by the habit unless they quit.

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