- LONDON (Reuters) - Nicotine
is a powerful addictive substance on a par with heroin and cocaine and
should be controlled like a drug or medicine, British doctors said on Tuesday.
- In a hard-hitting report prepared by international experts,
the Royal College of Physicians said cigarettes are nicotine delivery products
and said nicotine addiction should be recognized as a major medical and
- ``It is time for nicotine to become a major health priority
in Britain,'' Sir George Alberti, the president of the college, said in
- ``Recognition of this central role of nicotine addiction
is important because it has major implications for the way that smoking
is managed by doctors and other health professionals, and for the way in
which harmful nicotine delivery products such as cigarettes should be regulated
and controlled in society.''
- The tobacco industry disputed the report's findings.
- The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, which represents
leading tobacco firms, said it overstated the danger of smoking.
- ``We do not believe that this product is as addictive
as the report would suggest. Unlike hard drugs, people do give it up every
day and people do not have to fund their habit by beating up old ladies,''
spokesman John Carlisle said.
- The report said the way tar and nicotine are measured
in cigarettes is misleading. Brands described as 'light' and 'mild' should
be banned unless they are proven to have a reduced health risk, it said.
- Warning labels on tobacco products should make it clear
how addictive cigarettes are, the report said, adding that nicotine replacement
therapy, which helps smokers quit, should be available on the government-funded
National Health Service.
- ``At a time when smoking still causes one in every five
deaths in Britain, measures designed to achieve further reductions in smoking
are clearly important and, if successful, will realize substantial public
health benefits,'' Alberti added.
- The anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
called the report a ``devastating critique'' of low-tar cigarettes and
the measures used to entice people to smoke.
- ``The Royal College has sounded the death-knell for low
tar cigarettes and the comforting but wrong idea that these are somehow
less dangerous,'' Clive Bates, the director of ASH, said.
- ``You couldn't have a more withering and detailed critique
of the methodologies underpinning the regulation of the harm caused by
cigarettes,'' he added
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