On July 1st England became smoke-free in public places to join Ireland and Scotland in making the entire United Kingdom smoke-free. They've come a long way since the Medical Research Council in the UK announced that smoking actually was a cause of cancer 50 years ago in 1957. We also now know that smoking is a major cause of the need for lung transplantation due to the many other diseases it inflicts, such as emphysema/copd.
“Half of all smokers get killed by tobacco, and stopping works. If the ban on smoking in public places eventually helps a million smokers to stop, it will avoid nearly half a million tobacco deaths.”MRC News Release
Exactly 50 years ago on June 29 in 1957, the Medical Research Council issued the first official statement by any national research organisation in the world that smoking was actually an important cause of lung cancer. (BMJ 29 June 1957 pp 1523-4)
MRC research into the great increase in UK lung cancer death rates began in 1947, showing smoking to be a major cause of it. Studies from other countries showed similar findings, but at that time the UK had the worst death rates from smoking in the world.
In an immediate response in Parliament to the 1957 MRC statement, the Health Ministry accepted that smoking was a major cause of lung cancer and deemed it the Government’s responsibility to inform the public of the dangers of smoking.
Subsequent MRC-supported research, especially by Sir Richard Doll and Sir Richard Peto, has measured the full eventual hazards of smoking, showing that half of all persistent smokers are killed by their addiction but that stopping smoking works. Since the first major MRC publication in 1950, about 7 million people in the UK and 100 million people in other countries have been killed by smoking. In Britain, however, the death rates are falling fast because half the smokers have stopped (10 million have stopped, while 10 million still smoke). Most who have not stopped say they wish they had.
Sir Richard Peto, Professor of Medical Statistics at Oxford, said “Half of all smokers get killed by tobacco, and stopping works. If the ban on smoking in public places eventually helps a million smokers to stop, it will avoid nearly half a million tobacco deaths.” Read the full News Release.
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