A report of the Royal College of Physicians on smoking in relation to cancer of the lung and other diseases

This report highlighted the link between smoking and lung cancer, other lung diseases, heart disease and gastrointestinal problems. Using the research of Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill, it made a strong epidemiological case for the harm done by smoking. It called on government to implement a raft of public health measures to reduce cigarette smoking, and on doctors to advise patients on illnesses caused and exacerbated by smoking, and to help patients stop smoking.

The aim of the report was also to inform and advise the public, and far greater numbers of the report were printed and sold than usual. It was launched with the RCP’s first ever press conference, and they sold 33,000 copies by the autumn of 1963 and over 50,000 in the USA.

It created a media storm at the time, with an ambivalent, even hostile response from some parts of the media, government and society. It marked, though, the RCP’s enduring role in public health, both by advising government and via its own publications and activities. Perhaps the strongest of these has been five decades of action on tobacco control.

The RCP has also published a new report, Fifty years since smoking and health – progress, lessons and priorities for a smoke-free UK, which includes papers presented by leading international experts at a conference held in March 2012 to commemorate fifty years since the publication of the 1962 report. You can order printed copies of the new report or download the online version for free.

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Smoking and health (1962)