Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Emerging tobacco hazards in China: 2. Early mortality results from a prospective study

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 21 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1423

Rapid Response:

Throw Peto in a tar pit

Studies which merely compare the death rates of smokers versus non-
smokers are nothing less than deliberate scientific fraud. These studies
purposely exploit the defect of confounding, to falsely blame smoking for
diseases that it does not cause.

We now know that most of the supposed "smoking related diseases" are
actually caused by viruses and bacteria. The anti-smokers falsely blamed
smoking for stomach cancer and ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori; for
cervical cancer, esophageal cancer, and bladder cancer actually caused by
human papillomavirus; for asthma actually caused by Chlamydia trachomatis;
and for heart disease actually caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae and other

For some of these diseases, notably ulcers, stomach cancer, and
cervical cancer, the supposed association with smoking, which was
proclaimed to us to be "causal," was entirely due to confounding. For the
other diseases, "the evidence is mounting," to steal a phrase from the
anti-smokers, and the anti-smokers' "mountain of evidence" is washing away
like sand.

But it seems that there are certain old dinosaurs who want to freeze
science in the golden age of ignorance of the 1980s, namely Richard Peto
and his ilk. Throw this old relic in a tar pit where he belongs!

Competing interests: No competing interests

14 December 1998
Carol A S Thompson
machine operator
Flambeau Micro plastics factory