James Walton

Sick and tired

Plus: why does British self-deprecation sound so like boasting?: Channel 4’s Very British Problems reviewed

When the link between tobacco and lung cancer was first established in the early 1950s, one obvious question arose: should doctors tell people not to smoke? These days, of course, the answer seems equally obvious — but at the time, medical opinion was divided. According to the highly distinguished Dr Erich Geiringer in a letter to the Lancet, ‘the best advice a doctor can give …to many non-smokers’ was that ‘they should get a pipe and dissolve their …body-destroying frustrations into blue smoke’.

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