Cigarette firms knowingly misled public on air filters, claims BMJ

In collaboration with the Press Association

Tobacco companies encouraged the hospitality industry to buy air filters as an alternative to smokefree legislation despite knowing them to be ineffective, the British Medical Journal has claimed.

Documents obtained by the BMJ have shown that British American Tobacco (BAT) promoted air filters as a viable option to smokefree legislation, despite knowing that they only remove 34 per cent of harmful particles from cigarette smoke.

BAT scientist Nigel Warren told the BMJ that the company's prime objective in promoting the filters to pubs, clubs and restaurants was to "negate" the need for smokefree legislation.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said the documents had shown the tobacco industry was guilty of promoting a "myth" in its bid to maintain smoking in public places.

"MPs in Westminster will soon have the chance to use their free vote to decide whether England will follow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and go totally smokefree. I urge them to read this paper," she said.

"The only way to protect the public from second hand smoke is to have a complete ban. Half measures will leave many of their constituents at risk from cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems."