Tobacco debate

If passive smoking is a 'hoax' (Letters, 12 November), why does the tobacco industry voluntarily print large warnings about its dangers on cigarette advertisements? Do manufacturers know something that Martin Ball doesn't?

Presumably he will now be suing them and the Royal College of Physicians, which said in 1992 that smoking by parents is a cause of 17,000 hospital admissions for children under the age of five - as well as 4,000 miscarriages, 400 stillbirths, and 300 cot deaths, annually. And is the Asthmatics Society another bunch of hoaxers for claiming that passive smoking exacerbates asthma?

While most independent observers have long accepted the link between passive smoking and lung cancer among high-risk individuals, for most people the principal risk is to the respiratory system. And, of course, there's the added nuisance of coming home from the pub with smelly clothes - but perhaps Mr Ball's organisation solves that with a free dry-cleaning service for non-smokers?

Donald Reid

Chief executive

Association for Public Health