Tobacco chief doubts that smoking kills


Staff member
Jun 3, 2003
"Tobacco chief doubts that smoking kills"
Tobacco chief doubts that smoking kills
By Auslan Cramb, Scotland Correspondent

The first chief executive of a British tobacco company forced to defend his product in court yesterday refused to accept that "smoking kills".

Gareth Davis, the chief executive of Imperial Tobacco, agreed that there was no such thing as a "safe cigarette" but said there was no firm proof that smoking cigarettes caused lung cancer.

The executive, who earned £1.6 million last year, was giving evidence in the first case in Britain in which a tobacco company has been sued over the death of a smoker. Margaret McTear, 58, is seeking damages of £500,000 for the death of her husband Alfred, who smoked 60 cigarettes a day and died from lung cancer in 1993, shortly after launching the legal action.

The case finally reached court earlier this year after Mrs McTear cleared a series of legal hurdles.

Called to give evidence by lawyers for the widow at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Mr Davis was quoted a plethora of statistics linking smoking and cancer.

The list included one passage written by Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, suggesting that the habit was responsible for an estimated 120,000 deaths a year in Britain.

Colin McEachran, QC, for Mrs McTear, then asked Mr Davis: "With 40 per cent of the market, your company is going to be responsible for 45,000 deaths in one year. Isn't that correct?"

Mr Davis, 53, replied: "I don't know that this is correct, no." But he agreed that if the figures were correct, then "one would have to accept cigarettes were dangerous".

He was then asked to read out health warnings on packets of Superkings, Lambert and Butler and John Player cigarettes, which are manufactured by Imperial Tobacco. They included "Tobacco seriously damages health", "Smoking causes cancer", and "Smoking kills".

Mr McEachran said: "We have seen on three of those packets the warning 'Smoking kills'. Does your company accept them?" Mr Davis replied: "The answer is we don't know. It may do, but we don't know."

Mr Davis said he had no reason to doubt that the UK and US governments and the World Health Organisation accepted a link between smoking, lung cancer and other potentially fatal diseases. But while there might be a statistical association, he added: "I think most scientists would agree statistical association does not equal causation. There are many questions that remain unanswered.

"I think it is fair to say we believe smokers are more likely to develop serious diseases than non-smokers and we would agree there is no safe cigarette."

Mr Davis, a smoker since his teens, accepted that his company's stance on smoking and lung cancer was different to that of four rival tobacco firms which accepted a link between the habit and disease.

He also told the court that the millions of pounds his company spent on advertising - before the practice was banned - was not about encouraging people to begin smoking, but to make existing smokers switch brands.

Mr McTear, who gave evidence on his death bed after launching the legal action, blamed glamorous adverts for his addiction.

The hearing is expected to last well into next year.

• Roger Highfield, Science Editor, writes: A chemical produced when the body breaks down nicotine in tobacco can improve memory and help protect brain cells from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, according to research published yesterday. Laboratory studies also indicate the product, cotinine, might offer a more benign treatment for the psychotic behaviour of schizophrenics.

That tobacco smoke is harmful is in no doubt. However, evidence has grown over the years that one ingredient - nicotine - can improve mental skills and dexterity.

The research findings on the beneficial effects of cotinine, which does not have nicotine's addictive properties, were presented yesterday by Dr Jerry Buccafusco, of the Medical College of Georgia, at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans.




"Tobacco chief doubts that smoking kills"
That's why we should all smoke cigars. No lung cancer there. Just lots and lots of nicotine! lol
Sep 25, 2003
"Tobacco chief doubts that smoking kills"
The man is telling the truth as he (and the medical community) know it to be:
Smoking does not cause cancer.
If smoking causes cancer how do we explain the vast majority of smokers who never develop it.... Hmmm? Nobody should be forced to prove that it doesn't "kill" people when nobody has proven that it does.
Just one more sad example of post-modern illogical idiocy.
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