Unwinnable war

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For Neil McKeganey (Perspective, 16 January), the success of UK legislation in making ­cigarette smoking socially unacceptable means we must continue to support Richard Nixon’s “war on drugs”. But there is a clear parallel between the failure of prohibition legislation to tackle US problems with alcohol in the 1920s and 1930s and its failure with ­narcotics today.

Prohibition laws are being repealed throughout South America and in the US the states of Washington and Colorado have decided to legalise, regulate and tax cannabis. They are supported by the ­Chicago school of economists led by Nobel laureate Gary Becker who argue the drug war is expensive, pointless and counterproductive.

The arguments Mr McKeganey makes to retain our drug laws exactly mirror those made in America 80 years ago to counter demands for the repeal of alcohol prohibition.

Of course, what really ended the “noble experiment” was a desperate need for tax income in the early 1930s and a similar requirement may well be helping reformers today.

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews