News & Comment

BBC's guide to rolling your own cigarette attacked as "breathtakingly irresponsible"

Sat 7th May, 2011

Senior doctors have protested to the BBC about an article on its website entitled How to roll a perfect cigarette which they claim encourages smoking. 

Dr Gabriel Scally, regional director of public health for south-west England, wrote to Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, saying: "By allowing this type of content to be carried under a BBC logo gives an implied level of legitimacy for what is effectively a 'How 2' guide to shortening your life and experiencing chronic, life-altering illness."

Professor John Britton, chair of a tobacco advisory group at the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors, said: "The RCP believes it is breathtakingly irresponsible for the BBC to have information on their website on how to roll the perfect cigarette. This material is freely available to children and young people, who may be tempted to try smoking after reading this information.

"There would be widespread outrage if the BBC had information on their website that explained how to inject an intravenous drug. It is no less irresponsible or bizarre for the BBC to explain how to roll cigarettes in this way."

Nick Reynolds, a social media executive at BBC Online, said the article would not be taken down. It is located on a part of the BBC website called H2G2, which is intended "to encourage the community to write about all aspects of human existence for a collaborative guide to life, the universe and everything" and the piece had been written by a member of the public, not a BBC journalist."

Source: Guardian (6 May 2011)

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