- Leading German public health experts who played down
the dangers of cigarettes - including one who argued that discrimination
against smokers was like the Nazi persecution of the Jews - have been secretly
financed for years by the tobacco industry, it has been alleged.
- The claims were published yesterday by the weekly magazine
Der Spiegel, which said four of the country's top medical research scientists
had received millions of Deutschmarks for publishing biased reports about
smoking during the 1980s and early 1990s. They were named as Jürgen
von Troschke, the head of medical sociology at Freiburg University; Johannes
Siegrist, a top medical scientist at Düsseldorf's Heinrich Heine University;
the Augsburg University scientist Johannes Gostomzyk and the former head
of the German Federal Health Office, Karl Überla. Der Spiegel said
the four were funded for years by the German Association of Cigarette Manufacturers,
mainly via innocuous-sounding medical foundations in an attempt by the
industry to play down the dangers of smoking.
- The evidence came to light in a report compiled by the
German branch of the World Health Organisation. Martina Pötschke-Langer,
the spokeswoman for the WHO's Centre for Tobacco Control in Heidelberg
told the magazine: "It is particularly reprehensible that, of all
people, health experts should have allowed themselves to have been bought
by the tobacco industry."
- Professor von Troschke was said to have received more
than DM700,000 for publishing his research, which included a report entitled
the "psycho-sociological uses of smoking" in which he dismissed
claims that smoking was addictive.
- Der Spiegel described him as an active opponent of discrimination
against smokers who used a caricature of a smoker with a "sort of
Jewish star" pinned on his breast to illustrate the "pogrom-mentality"
of the anti-smoking lobby.
- Dr Siegrist was said to have been persuaded by the tobacco
giant RJ Reynolds to conduct research into whether smoking increased the
risk of heart disease, but only if it was linked to professional stress
factors. He was reported to have been paid DM300,000.
- Mr Gostomzyk was, it said, a regular recipient of industry
research funds. He published a report in the 1980s dismissing claims by
experts about the dangers of passive smoking as "unscientific".Karl
Überla, the president of the German Federal Health Office during the
1980s, was alleged to have been persuaded by the tobacco industry to suspend
judgement on a scientific report that argued for a ban on the inclusion
of the toxic chemical Coumarin in cigarettes. Philip Morris and British
American Tobacco made 36 million cigarettes containing the substance, Der
- His office was said to have requested and been awarded
DM1.6m by the tobacco industry to finance research on passive smoking.
- All four denied the magazine's allegations. The German
branch of the WHO said the close relationship between health experts and
the tobacco industry had effectively blocked attempts to curb smoking in
Germany for the past two decades.
- ©2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.