Stopping Smoking through Fear

I learned recently from the doughty journal Tobacco Control (sic), that ‘A new series of emotional and hard-hitting television ads have (sic) been launched in the UK to tell the stories of real former smokers who have been affected by cancer.’ It’s called ‘Quit 16’ because, it says, sixteen is the number of different types of cancer cigarette smoking can cause. There is a link to a website (, sponsored by Cancer Research UK, that shows the various cancers; many are illustrated by specimens from a pathology museum. Took me back to my student days!

Further links are provided to conventional smoking cessation services, and one ‘For health professionals’ containing ‘Messages for patients’ including the scary information that ‘Research has shown that for every 15 cigarettes smoked, there is a DNA change which could cause a cell to become cancerous’ and the encouragement to ‘Just give it [quitting] a go.’

The dreadful toll of disease and death caused by smoking is a tragedy and a scandal.

There is a glaring and inescapable paradox here: if smoking is so dangerous, why are cigarettes allowed to be sold?

© Gabriel Symonds

Gabriel Symonds

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