The findings of the World Health Organisation's research into the alleged risk to non-smokers of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, confirm what a wide range of reputable individuals and organisations have long maintained: that it in no way constitutes the threat that the anti-smoker industry would have us all believe.

The WHO study, involving 12 centres across seven European countries, states that there is 'no relationship between childhood exposure to second- hand smoke at home and lung cancer', and found a 'statistically non-significant positive association' for spousal and workplace exposure, a result which could easily have been produced by random chance.

Now even anti-smokers in the UK are accepting that their claims are, at best, exaggerated out of all proportion or, at worst, deliberately misleading and scaremongerist. The director of the anti-smoker 'charity' ASH, was quoted in response to the WHO's findings as saying: 'We are not saying that if you are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke you are going to fall down dead. If you are a non-smoker, you are not that likely to get lung cancer.'

Now that 'passive smoking' is confirmed as a hoax, perhaps the debate over adult smoking will concern itself more with the practical ways in which smokers can be accommodated and the fears of non-smokers quelled.

Martin Ball

Information officer


London SW1