Dishonest in saying that the smoking debate is about health versus freedom, says Whitty

Attempts by tobacco industry lobbyists to initiate a debate on smoking health versus freedom legislation are “dishonest,” said the British Chief Medical Officer.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty said most people who smoke want to quit but can’t because the cigarette industry “hired them at a young age”.

He praised Dr Javed Khan’s review of how England can become smoke-free for being “bold” in its recommendations.

Sir Chris said a small number of wealthy companies are profiting from some of the most vulnerable in society.

He said in a briefing as the Khan report was launched Thursday that it is people with mental health problems, the unemployed, those in difficult financial circumstances who are “the people from whom the cigarette industry makes its profits. “.

He said: “Anyone who travels the country like me sees that the cigarette industry is far more active wherever people are poorest, most vulnerable.”

He criticized as “dishonest” any attempt to make it clear that it is a debate between health and freedom of choice.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty said he welcomed the
Professor Sir Chris Whitty said he welcomed the “bold report” on smoking cessation in England (Jonathan Brady / PA)

He said: “The cigarette industry lobbyists will try to make this a debate between health and freedom. It is the most dishonest debate you can imagine.

“Most people who smoke want to quit but can’t because the cigarette industry made them addicted at an early age. They can not. This is not freedom of choice.

“Smoking causes rapid ill health of the people around a smoker. They don’t choose to smoke, but they still suffer damage. This is not freedom of choice.

“The baby in the belly of a pregnant woman who smokes does not choose to smoke.

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“If you are in favor of freedom, you are definitely not in favor of this addictive industry that kills so many people.”

Describing the “staggering scale of harm to health” caused by tobacco products, he said around a quarter of cancer deaths are associated with smoking, adding that “it is by far the leading cause” of lung cancer in the UK.

He added that the harmful effects of smoking cause “a great deal of strain on the NHS,” causing not only deaths but also damage to general health and quality of life, citing people living with chronic obstructive airway disease and others who have had need amputations or have had a stroke due to smoking.

Professor Sir Chris Whitty said he was speaking on behalf of other UK medical chiefs who were streaming the briefing.

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