Blog by Dr Nick Hopkinson chair of the Board of Trustees of ASH, asking smokers with serious diseases caused by smoking to tell ASH your stories so we can hold the industry to account.


Tobacco manufacturers are highly profitable, reaping benefits for shareholders and senior management. But every day I see the damage they do.

Patients in my clinic who struggle to walk more than a few yards because emphysema, caused by smoking, has destroyed their lungs. Those anxiously waiting to find out whether the blood they have coughed up means cancer. Many so addicted to smoking that they still can’t quit, even after they know what smoking has done to them.

I don’t just want to treat my sick patients and help them to stop smoking, I want to prevent Big Tobacco going on to addict and kill future generations here and round the world. Smoking has already killed over 100 million people since the millennium and is on course to cause a billion deaths by the end of this century. Holding the tobacco industry to account for what it does and stopping the harm it causes, is why I became chair of ASH.

Most of my patients became smokers long before the risks of addiction were admitted by the industry. In 1996 the Chief Executive of British American Tobacco (BAT) was still denying the company had any evidence of the addictiveness of smoking, “we have not concealed, we do not conceal and we will never conceal”… “We have no internal research which proves …..that smoking is addictive.”

Only two years later a US court case forced tobacco companies like BAT to publish millions of internal documents demonstrating they’d known for 50 years that smoking was addictive. One, from BAT, dated 1980 states “It has been suggested that cigarette smoking is the most addictive drug. Certainly large numbers of people will continue to smoke because they can’t give it up. If they could they would do so. They can no longer be said to make an adult choice.”

Perhaps you’re one of the millions of people who became smokers before the 1990s, sucked in by glamorous advertising with no mention of the risk of addiction. If that was you and you are now suffering serious smoking-related diseases, like emphysema, lung or oral cancer get in touch with ASH at:

Or maybe you’re one of the many thousands of tobacco industry employees who received free cigarettes, a common practice which led many into becoming addicted smokers. Free cigarettes were a cheap perk for the company to provide, but one with deadly consequences.

Recently ASH was contacted by an employee who was given free cigarettes and now has lung cancer, and a law firm is now examining his case. Today at the BAT AGM ASH will be asking the company how many cigarettes were handed out to how many employees over how long. We don’t expect a straight answer from BAT or any of the other tobacco companies, who we will be asking the same questions.

So if you worked for a tobacco manufacturer and became addicted from the free cigarettes you were given, and are now suffering from emphysema, lung or oral cancer, we’re interested in hearing from you too. Get in touch with ASH at:

Dr Nick Hopkinson, consultant respiratory physician and chair of ASH