LETTERS

Steve Ainsworth ('Tired of the PC Plod', 13 September) might do well to read the Philip Morris report on the supposed value of smoking to the Czech Republic before pronouncing on its wisdom and denouncing its critics as hysterical zealots.

In fact, the report itself shows that the burden of smoking on the Czech healthcare system and business outweighs the 'benefits' of reduced health and social security costs due to the early death of smokers by 13 times.

To make smoking look better for the Czech Republic, the report included tax raised on tobacco as a benefit, alongside the early death benefits. But tobacco tax is just a transfer within the economy, and it is wrong and deliberately misleading to include it.Without tobacco, the tax would be raised on a different base and there would be only a minor economic impact.

What caused worldwide revulsion is that Philip Morris should try to use such distorted, self-serving arguments as part of its lobbying efforts to persuade the Czech government to softpeddle on its tobacco policy - and therefore sell more cigarettes.

Does your self-styled iconoclast really think it is zealous to find this offensive? Philip Morris admitted it was and apologised.

Analysis of the report is at:

www. ash. org. uk/? international Clive Bates Director Action on Smoking and Health London EC2