Smoking deaths going unrecorded in UK

A check of 2128 death certificates and 236 postmortem reports issued at a London hospital between 2003 and 2009 uncovered just two instances of smoking noted as the “underlying” cause of death.

It was listed as a contributing factor in another 10 cases – despite there being 407 deaths caused by conditions in which smoking was thought to play a substantial role.

The authors said a desire to not stigmatise the deceased was suspected, though “it is interesting that the same clinicians frequently cited alcohol use as an underlying cause of death”.

J Clin Pathol 2011; online 24 Oct