Tobacco control: new resources, existing treaties, and emerging challengesBMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4161 (Published 19 June 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l4161
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The history of Medicine is riddled with mistakes. Many of them were committed because of people's ignorance, because of the low knowledge in relation to the little development of scientific research in ancient times, or because social leaders approve rules that benefit them economically and politically regardless of the collateral or long-term effects. There has always been no correspondence between natural laws and social norms, mainly because those who legislate do not always know how nature works.
The errors that have been made through the history of Medicine are graded.
There are mild errors, such as those committed daily by health professionals in the operating room or in the office or in the community, anywhere in the world. For example, instead of injecting milligrams or milliliters of a drug, they mistakenly use micrograms or microliters. In artificial insemination units somebody uses the semen of another parent, or instead of using an analgesic, a laxative is provided; some patient uses toxic substances instead of medicines…
There are very serious errors that have such as amputating the wrong foot of a diabetic patient with complications, or leaving a surgical tool in a patient's abdominal cavity.
There are erroneous practices that at some point in history were introduced and still remain and are promoted by unscrupulous people and used in daily practice. There is still no scientific evidence to show that the consumption of urine produces healing effects in people, however there is still urine therapy. Phlebotomy or bleeding for many years was one of the most popular methods of disease treatment. The Greeks introduced this procedure, which became popular throughout the 19th century and it still exists. Chloramphenicol was used for many years to treat abdominal pain.
In the highest hierarchical level are the critical and dramatic errors. All peoples and nations know the great mistakes made in populations that can have no excuse. After many years of experience we now understand that we have made very serious errors that have led us to face for many years and to continue to face a great magnitude of suffering, with very serious economic and health consequences. One of these errors is and was promoting tobacco use among young people and adolescents.
Definitely repairing mistakes that were made, at population level, requires corrective work by many people, with many protagonists, over many years and in several places in the world. The impact and results are not the same in different regions, and this is well shown in the results section of the article published in BMJ 2019; 365:l2231, and written by 20 authors from different countries.
Cigarette smoking was fashionable during the 1960s. Its use was and is still massive, mainly during the winter and in countries with severe climate conditions, as can be inferred from the world map of figure 2 in the above mentioned article. In the years of the last century, little was known about the mechanism of action of alkaloids on cAMP levels; no studies had been done to associate cigarette use with the emergence of chronic respiratory diseases, much less was known about the addictive and lethal effect that tobacco produces among its consumers. In those times, young people around the world smoked more than two cigarettes a day. The tobacco industry distributed packages containing up to 144 cigarettes. It was never thought that tobacco’s consumption in its different presentations, cigars, cigarettes, pipes, would generate such great proportions and a pandemic as can be deduced from the data in that mentioned amazing article.
Today's medical science has reached a high level of development. Fifty years, one hundred years, two or five centuries before all that was a mistake and considered a dogma nowadays produces in some people astonishment and pity, and in others, laughter because through history, scientific research and professional experience have shown that those procedures are wrong and should not be promoted or perpetuated.
The rights of children prevail over the rights of others. Consequently, no decision by the authorities can directly or indirectly violate this fundamental principle so clearly stated in official documents.
Let’s radically stop all dynamics related to the promotion of tobacco consumption.
Competing interests: No competing interests