Smoking out health letter

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Doctors were aware of the dangers of smoking as early as the 18th century, a newly discovered letter from Edinburgh has shown.

The warning was made by a city medical student called William Adams who wrote to his father in 1799.

He graphically described the dangers of tobacco centuries ahead of the science that finally convinced the world smoking was not good for the health.

The letter is now being sold by an auction house in Shropshire. Richard Westwood-Brookes from the saleroom said: “This is an interesting letter as it quotes another case in which a patient was killed because she was given too much tobacco.

“Whether the exact reasons for tobacco being harmful were completely understood is debatable, but clearly those in the medical profession knew.”