“Epidemiology cannot be used to establish causation in any individual case, and the use of statistics applicable to the general population to determine the likelihood of causation in an individual is fallacious. Given that there are possible causes of lung cancer other than cigarette smoking, and given that lung cancer can occur in a non-smoker, it is not possible to determine in any individual case whether but for an individual’s cigarette smoking he probably would not have contracted lung cancer.”
Lord Nimmo Smith, 31 May 2005
“Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics”
In 1950 Doll and Hill published their Preliminary Report on “Smoking and Carcinoma of the Lung”, followed up in 1954 by their second report “The mortality of doctors in respect of their smoking habits”. Their original investigation looked into the “phenomenal” increase in deaths attributed to lung cancer between 1922 and 1947, and the question as to whether it may have been due to better diagnosis, environmental factors or something else, in this case smoking. It is regarded as one of the ground-breaking pieces of epidemiology, then a very new branch of medicine. In the early 1950s there had been a number of reports looking at the potential links between smoking and health and by the time of the second report Doll and Hill concluded “All these studies agree in showing that there are more heavy smokers and fewer non-smokers among patients with lung cancer than among patients with other diseases”. On 13 February 1954 the UK Government declared that the relationship between smoking and lung cancer should be regarded as established.
Relative risks, absolute risks