Children, smoking and advertising:
Letter to the Editor

Colin McDonald


I am sorry that Dr Hastings, Dr Aitken and Mrs MacKintosh, in reply to my criticisms of their research (See article in Vol. 13 No. 2), have not taken up the invitation which (I hoped) was present in my article (Vol. 12 No. 3) to raise the debate to a higher level. Let us all agree that correlations cannot prove (or disprove) cause. The more valuable question, surely, is whether correlations of the kind they have admittedly found are important. Hastings et al. clearly believe they are. I think, on the contrary, that they are trivial, and do not provide convincing evidence that the removal of advertising (at least advertising as we have it in the United Kingdom) would have any effect at all on children's propensity to smoke.