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Cancer Specialists Call for Eventual Elimination of All Smoking

June 07, 1985|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — The eventual elimination of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking was recommended Thursday by a Soviet-sponsored conference of cancer specialists.

Warning that more than a million people will die each year from tobacco-induced lung cancer by the end of the century, the conference called for "eradication of virtually all tobacco use."

Nikolai N. Blokhin, director of a Moscow cancer center and president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said he personally favors a total ban on smoking in public places as a first step.

The conference's final report also endorsed major increases in cigarette prices as one way to discourage their use.

"Each person should know that if he continues smoking, he will continue to poison himself," Blokhin said in advocating tougher and more visible health warnings on cigarette packages.

No Linkage Noted

The anti-smoking pronouncement came on the heels of a new government-backed drive against alcohol consumption in the Soviet Union, but Blokhin said there is no link between the two.

"We are not a bunch of dictators," he said. "This is a decision taken by scientists and we hope governments all over the world will listen to our recommendations."

An American participant, Dr. Ralph S. Paffenbarger of Stanford University, agreed with the findings of the conference, saying, "Cigarette smoking is a potent and very pervasive deadly habit."

But he said the number of smokers in the United States has declined by about 25% in recent years.

Raising cigarette prices and limiting their tar content, the conference said, could be major steps in the drive against smoking.

In the Soviet Union, most brands of cigarettes sell for 60 kopecks (about 70 cents) a pack, although some are priced at one ruble (about $1.17).

Slight Decline

"Unfortunately, (cigarette) prices have never been increased in the Soviet Union," said a Soviet physician, Dr. David Zaridze. Even so, cigarette sales per capita have declined slightly ever since 1978, he reported.

Seventy million of the Soviet Union's 270 million people are smokers, he added, and surveys indicate that from 40% to 70% of men smoke, compared to 7% to 10% of Soviet women.

The conference issued its conclusions at a news conference held at the Oncology Center, the best known cancer research and treatment hospital in the Soviet Union.

"Worldwide, the elimination of smoking would eventually result in the avoidance of well over 1 million tobacco-induced deaths each year, and even moderate decreases in smoking would prevent substantial numbers of such deaths," the specialists said in their report.

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