Tony SmithBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b983 (Published 10 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b983
- Stephen Lock
When Tony Smith qualified in 1959 the medical enlightenment was still far away, for doctors and laypeople. Fifty years later he had been behind many of the important changes, through his constant proselytising in medical journals, popular books, and newspapers. Thus medicine is now a subject of normal conversation; no longer are, say, patients with leukaemia fobbed off with a diagnosis of anaemia, and they are asked to help with decisions on their own treatment.
Though Tony’s first two books for the public were about family planning, he switched the emphasis to more general themes, jointly authoring The Medical Risks of Life for Penguin and The Family Health Guide for Reader’s Digest. This targeting of the public was highlighted when he became medical correspondent of the Times, at the same time as being an editor at the BMJ, throwing the journal’s influence behind developments such as David Steel’s Abortion Act and the debate over the ethical dilemmas of organ transplantation.
Born in 1934 to a working class family in Coventry, Tony was evacuated to a foster home for five years to escape the blitz, winning …