The Guardian 25 May, 2005

No warning
on cigarettes’ memory damage


Tobacco companies have been accused of failing to warn consumers that smoking can damage their day-to-day memory — following new research that shows heavy smoking can cause significant memory impairment.

The study by five British universities showed heavy smokers reporting 22 percent more memory omissions than non-smokers and 12 percent more than moderate smokers in basic tasks such as sending birthday cards and remembering where to put things.

The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, was carried out by an internet questionnaire completed by more than 700 people.

In the wake of the study, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia called on governments to take the next step in tobacco regulation by requiring all tobacco displays to be stored out of sight in retail outlets.

"Storing tobacco displays out of sight will help protect children and the majority of smokers who are trying to quit", said ASH Chief Executive Anne Jones.

"Smokers are not inconvenienced, as a recent survey shows that over 80 percent know their brand preference and are not influenced by displays in shops.

"This study brings home the fact that tobacco is not just a long-term risk to life, but an addiction that has a negative impact on our daily lives.

"It confirms earlier research showing that even moderate smoking makes people nervous, irritable and less efficient in the performance of basic tasks.

"It also backs up studies showing second-hand smoke exposure has a negative impact on children’s intellectual abilities."

Health groups have written to all Health and Shadow Ministers calling on their support for more comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, including an out-of-sight policy on prominent tobacco displays in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

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