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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Because the matter is so important, and as far as teenagers are
concerned, so urgent, I feel I should repeat extracts from the advice
I gave last year after the publication of the report of the Royal College
of Physicians :
"For many years medical officers of health have underlined the
association of cigarette smoking with lung cancer (in this borough advice
on this has been given over at least the last 10 years), but unfortunately
with no obvious effect on the amount of tobacco consumed, while at the
same time the lung cancer rate has steadily increased. Advice to stop
smoking, certainly of cigarettes, to lessen the risk from lung cancer,
chronic bronchitis, and certain heart diseases, has now been given by
such an influential body as the Royal College of Physicians, and so
the gist of their advice is modestly repeated here: SAVE YOUR
smoking. That is what it really amounts to.
If you are wavering on the brink of giving it up, do now take the
plunge, but even if you have not the inclination or will-power for that,
please get out of the unhealthy social habit of offering cigarettes on so
many occasions to your friends. (Keep them, if you have to, for your
enemies!) Remember that: lung cancer may not show itself for 20 years
or more; it is almost invariably fatal; it attacks younger age-groups
than most other cancers; 20,000 men died of it last year in this country;
it appears to be one of the very few cancers which is mainly preventable;
evidence of its connection with cigarette smoking is overwhelming.
Also remember that cigarette smoking can cause, or make worse,
chronic bronchitis, certain types of heart disease, some stomach ulcers.
A word for the middle-aged smoker: Statistics show that your safety
chances improve with every year you give up smoking. Long-term
comfort : With all the research going on now there is a probability that
sooner or later the disease-causing factors in smoking will be identified
and eliminated. The younger person therefore if he gives up now
because it is dangerous, can comfort himself with the thought that in
one, five, perhaps ten years' time, he will be able to smoke without
danger to himself, other than to his pocket."