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Posted Sep 22 2008 4:36pm
While a century ago lung cancer was so rare that medical residents were called into the operating room to "see a condition you'll probably never see again," thanks to tobacco companies it has reached epidemic proportions, said Eriksen. The famous 1964 US Surgeon General's report commissioned by President John F. Kennedy - which concluded that smoking is a serious health hazard and requires urgent remedial action - was released on a Saturday because the government feared the news would crash the stock market due to the power of tobacco companies.

"WE IN the US still have not taken appropriate action," Eriksen declared, "and neither have you in Israel." In the US alone, over 160,000 deaths from lung cancer occur each year - more than the next four leading cancers (colon, breast, pancreas and prostate) combined. "This is unacceptable. It is a man-made form of cancer and preventible. "

The cumulative number of deaths by smoking around the world has reached 70 million. This figure is projected to reach 520 million by 2050 if nothing significant is done, Eriksen concluded.

A short time before New York senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, the former US attorney-general stated: "The cigarette industry is peddling a deadly weapon. It is dealing in people's lives for financial gain. The industry we seek to regulate is powerful and resourceful. Each new effort to regulate will bring new ways to evade. Still, we must be equal to the task, for the stakes involved are nothing less than the lives and health of millions all over the world.

"But this is a battle [that] can be won. I know it is a battle [that] must be won."

Indeed, 40 years later, it still must.

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