Cancer charity warns of ‘fatal ignorance’ over smoking risks

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THERE are “shocking” levels of ignorance about smoking and cancer among the UK public, a survey claims today.

The poll of 4,000 people for Cancer Research UK found more than four in five people did not know there was a link between smoking and eight different cancers.

At least two thirds of those asked knew smoking caused cancers of the lung, mouth and throat. But fewer than 20 per cent knew tobacco was linked to leukaemia and cancers of the liver, pancreas, bowel, kidney, bladder, cervix, and ovary. Fewer than two in five knew that stomach cancer is linked to smoking.

The charity said cigarette smoke contains a toxic cocktail of more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals.

Prof Robert West, Cancer Research UK’s quit smoking expert, said: “Nearly everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer. The addiction can lead people to reason that they might avoid lung cancer. But the odds aren’t good.

“These alarming results show what could be a fatal level of ignorance about the toxic hit list from tobacco.

“There are only two options to eliminate illness caused by smoking – help smokers to quit and stop young people from starting to smoke.”

The figures are released on the eve of England’s five-year anniversary of pubs, bars and all public spaces going smoke free tomorrow.

Seen as a success by health experts and enjoying huge public support, Ministers are now consulting on whether to remove the brightly coloured tobacco packaging.

Smoking is by far the most important preventable risk factor for cancer in the UK, responsible for nearly a fifth of all new cancer cases around 60 000 in the UK in 2010.