Helmut Schievelbein

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Helmut Schievelbein was a Cardiologist and director of the German Heart Center, at the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry, at the University of Munich who spent a life-time working either for the tobacco industry, or serving to support it.

In the period 1960-61 he had been the director of the Tobacco Reseach Institute, established and controlled by the German cigarette industry in Hamburg. It was taken over by Dr W Dontenwill when Schievelbein transferred to Munich. He retained his association with the Verband and Dr Franz Adlkofer, and jointly wrote some papers with him for publication in a German medical journal.

He published widely on smoking and on nicotine, and he retained his close association with the tobacco industry. At the same time he was an active member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) smoking and health group, and attended the Stockholm World Conference on Smoking & Health on behalf of the WHO.

His links to the tobacco industry were widely suspected, but even many of the tobacco industry's own staff were not sure. However RJ Reynolds, under Frank Colby, set up a Schievelbein Compensaton project. which suggests that he was being paid via this channel for at least some of the time, and also by the Verband via his friend Adlkofer. When Schievelbein retired

Documents & Timeline

1964 June 12 Report on him visiting London. He is at Munich doing nicotine studies, but still planning a research program. The trip was funded by BAT. [2] [[3]

1976 Nov 30He is doing some form of nicotine and blood testing for RJ Reynolds even though he is in Munich working for the German Heart Center. [4] This continues for at least two years. [5]

1977 A paper prepared for use at a tobacco group conference is labeled Project Schievelbein 1977. It reports on a "third common study together with Prof, Schievelbein in Munich investigating the smoking behaviour of 30 smokers, who smoked various brands, against their different smoke yields. [6] This appears to have been a form of brand-choice testing, probably for RJ Reynolds marketing.

1977 March [From the 1978 The "First Draft" of a long "White Paper. Smoking & Health: The Untold Story"]

In March 1977, the head of the Institute for Clinical Chemistry at the German Heart Center in Munich said that smoking is beneficial for healthy people because it strengthens the heart.

After intensive laboratory research with rabbits who were given nicotine equivalent to smoking six packages of cigarettes a day, Professor Helmut Schievelbein said: "The nicotine contained in cigarette smoke does not constrict the coronary arteries nor does it lead in this way to myocardial infarctions. Rather, nicotine is a stimulant and tranquilizer beneficial for the smoker."

One German newspaper described this as a "thunderbolt." But it escaped the notice of media in the U.S. Thunderbolts that would seem to contradict the conventional dogma somehow go unheard. [7]

See also a version of the story in Bild am Sonntag He was billed as the "Chief of the Institute for Clinical Chemistry at the German Heart Center in Munich. [8]

1978 Apr 18 He is sending a manuscript to Ray Thornton of BAT (Smoking Issues Manager). Thornton has made some changes to the draft, and he has OK'd it. [9]

1979 Aug 29 Peter N Lee reports back to the UK industry on Schievelbein:

"Dr. Helmut SChievelbein is a well knoswn Cardiologist working as director of the German Heart Centre in the institute for Clinical Chemistry and BioChemistry of Munich University. He has published widely on smoking and on nicotine. He has close association with the German Industry, 18 years ago he was director of the Tobacco Research Institute in Hamburg for a year before he left for Munich and Dr W Dontenwill took over. More recently he has been and still is a member of the Council on Smoking and Health set up by the Verband about the time that the laboratories in Hamburg were sold. He is not, however, a paid consultant to the Verand as I understand it. He is also a member of a WHO Smoking and Health group and attended the Stockholm World Conferernce in that capacity.

Adlkofer and Schienvelbein jointly wrote a paper "Science no longer in demand" which was published in a german medical journal. Adlkofer thought that some of his ideas were out of date and he was superficial. [10]

1980 Apr 2 He is working on a "Smoker Study" which was outside the control of RJ Reynolds Science director, Frank Colby. He wants Bernd F Pelz to contact him with details about the study. He has serious reservations. [11]

1981 /E He has been doing some research work on smoker's sperm-counts with Thomas Borelli, the scientific disinformation executive of Philip Morris. [12]

1981 Jan 29 Frank G Colby the main dissinformation executive of RJ Reynolds has been meetng in Munich with Bernd F Pelz of RJR's German subsidiary on the Schievelbein Compensation Project. They plan to exert influence on the VORSTAND -- and "not to finance the main study under the results of the preliminary study have been fully assessed".

Colby had had a similar meeting on the subject with Drs Koenig and Adlkofer of the Verband, with US lawyer Ed Jacobs. {Subject unknown) [13]

1982 Oct 8 The Shook Hardy & Bacon/Tobacco Institute 'analysis' of the scientific evidence against second-hand smoke says:

In 1982, Dr. Helmut Schievelbein, director of the Institute for Clinical Chemistry in Munich, West Germany, wrote that "to date, no proof has been brought forth" for the claim that public smoking is injurious to health.

Schievelbein, H. "Kein Beweis fur GesundheitsschAdlichkeit (No Proof for Injuriousness to Health)," Munch med Wschr 124(4): 13-15, 1982. Translation. [14]

1984 Quote: "Whether or not passive smoking is likely to aggrevate symptoms in patients with advanced coronary heart disease has not yet been unequivocally established and requires further investigation." [15]

1987 Jan 19 A memo from Walter Fink (ex Verband, now PM) to Tom S Osdene (at PM) says that Schievelbein's lab at Munich was being reorganized.

Prof. Schievelbein's will retire shortly. The following were laid down as indispensable conditions for the successor of Prof. Schievelbein:

  • the secrecy of results must be warranted
  • he must be scientifically accepted (credibility)
  • It must be possible to dissolve his contract at short notice
  • must be controlled by Hamburg {ie by the Verband and Adlkofer]

The WPA voted unanimously in favour of continuing the laboratory of Prof. Schievenbein in future under the name of "Laboratory of Prof. Adlkofer" The transfer to a third party in future was not excluded.


One of Schievelbein's research programs was "Nicotine as an indicator of exposure to passive smoking" and the comment was "Due to technical problems the project (hopefully) will probably not be carried out.

1988 Study on "Consistency of nicotine intake in smokers of cigarettes with varying nicotine yields" (smokers regulate the amount of nicotine they need by smoking more or less -- so the amount in a cigarette is not significant) This study carries the names of six life-time tobacco scientists: Franz X Adlkofer (Verband), Gerhard Scherer (RJR and Verband), A Biber, Wolf-Dieter Heller, Peter N Lee and Helmut Schievelbein.[17]