18th century letter warning of smoking dangers red-hot at auction

A NEWLY-discovered letter which showed that doctors were aware of the dangers of smoking as early as the 18th century has been sold at auction for £200.

The remarkable warning was made by medical student William Adams, who wrote to his father, an attorney, from his lodgings at Edinburgh University in 1799.

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Adams, who was in his early 20s studying in Edinburgh, had learned that his infirm mother had ignored his own advice and instead listened to an old woman who had told her to smoke a pipe of tobacco every day. He graphically describes the dangers of smoking.

The letter was discovered in an archive of documents and was sold by Mullock’s auction house at Ludlow racecourse, Shropshire.