UK tobacco giant Gallaher has become the latest cigarette manufacturer, after Philip Morris and British American Tobacco, to admit publicly that smoking causes cancer.
Gallaher, which makes Silk Cut and Benson & Hedges cigarettes, made the admission in a submission to a Department of Health select committee, posted this week on its corporate Website.
The document says: “For many years, Gallaher has proceeded on the assumption that cigarette smokers are more likely to contract lung cancer and other diseases, such as chronic bronchitis, heart disease and certain vascular diseases, than non-smokers.”
The company argues that it has responded to health fears by reducing tar levels.
Gallaher also seeks to distance itself from other UK tobacco companies in its attitude towards health issues.
Gallaher is at pains to point out that senior executives were not connected with the company when health fears first surfaced in the Sixties. But it stops short of saying smoking is addictive, stating: “For some it can be a very strong habit.”
A Gallaher spokesman says: “This has been planned for a long time. It is not a response to the Philip Morris announcement. It has just taken a while to get it on to the Website.”
The announcement means Imperial Tobacco is the only major UK cigarette manufacturer that does not freely admit there is a link between smoking and disease.
The three main manufacturers are due to give evidence to the health select committee in January.
An Imperial spokesman says its submission is still the property of the Department of Health and not in the public domain.