London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Lewisham 1962

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Lewisham Borough]

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Lung cancer

Table 9

All cancer deathsLung cancer deaths(c)as 0/ of(b)All cancer deathsLung cancer deaths(f)as % of(e)
19553031023 4226198

The Tobacco Manufacturers' Standing Committee have done
well to issue a third edition of their smoking statistics in the UK.
These are extremely detailed but it appears from them that the total
tobacco goods sold to the public in the UK in 1961 were 22% over
those in 1951. For cigarettes this percentage increase was 27 (6 for
plain and no less than 21 for tipped—which 10 years ago were only a
very small part but are now about one-fifth of all cigarettes sold) ;
for ordinary tobacco there was a decrease of 12 percent ; and for cigars
an increase of 60 percent, though total sales of these are still very small.
With regard to the sexes, during the same period of time there was
an increase from 3610 to 4010 in the number of cigarettes consumed
per adult male (11%) while for the adult female the number of cigarettes
consumed increased from 1120 to 1680 (50%).
The effect of recent propaganda against smoking appears to have
been negligible, or even negative. Thus, up to age 25, for males, 61%
were smokers in 1956 and 67% in 1961, and for females to the same age,
38% were smokers in 1956 while 49% were smokers in 1961. [This
is a truly appalling result for the efforts made to guide the younger adults
in the community]. Over the age of 25 the percentage of non-smokers
in males between 1951 and 1961 increased from 19 to 27.
From another table given it appears that the average adult man
aged 47 had over the previous 20 years smoked 92,000 cigarettes, as
against 33,000 for a woman of the same age—a ratio of nearly 3:1 ; at
the age of 65 the ratio would be nearly 4:1 [this no doubt throws light on
the difference in the lung cancer ratio between the sexes].
The tobacco manufacturers have given a large sum of money for
research in the causation of lung cancer, and they must be congratulated
on the clear and detailed layout of the statistical tables they
have provided, on which the above comments are based.
What to do ? From table 9 it will be seen that male deaths from
lung cancer are more than double what they were only eight years
previously. It appears that local propaganda to stop or cut down cigarette
smoking may have failed, and it would seem that a sustained
national effort, by advertisement and education, and directed to the
teenagers particularly, is essential.