ADDING TO Lord Beaumont's excellent review, June 8, each year in this country more than 100,000 persons die of smoking dependent diseases. The global figures of death are so astronomical that they defy comprehension.
We are in the midst of "the hidden holocaust", the effects of which can only be matched by the great plague epidemics of the middle ages.
The victims of smoking die from various cancers, from bronchitis and emphysema and above all from premature heart attacks. A smoker can expect to live on average five years less than a non-smoker.
The multinational tobacco companies can only secure their continuing profits by ensuring that a large proportion of each generation of adolescents becomes addicted to their product.
To achieve this they shamelessly manipulate individual politicians and evade the modest constraints some reluctant governments have placed on advertising.
With the tobacco market in western countries slowly contracting, the multinational companies are now actively seeking to increase their sales in the third world, hitherto largely spared the ravages of smoking dependent diseases.
The activities of the tobacco companies, as described in great detail by Peter Taylor, are wicked and evil. One has to go back to the slave trade to find such a culpable contempt for the well-being of fellow human beings.
Church leaders, it would seem, have nothing to say about all this. They are silent. Either they have not recognised or they prefer to ignore one of the great moral issues of our time.
A M W Porter