Declaration court

The Geneva University investigation

Was the collaboration secret?

The ethical issues

Industrial associations

Tobacco smoke publications

Letters to scientific journals

ETS workshops

The campaign



In 1973 and 1984 Rylander organised international workshops on the relation between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS; passive smoking) and disease. It was claimed during the Court hearings and by the Geneva University investigation that these workshops were initiated by the tobacco industry and that the results were adjusted to suit the industry. These accusations are false for the following reasons. 

The initiative to organise the workshop in 19731 came from Rylander and a group of colleagues, who had experience from organising similar events, particularly within the framework of WHO. Initial attempts to obtain funding from research foundations and other governmental agencies in Sweden were unsuccessful, mainly because none of the organisations contacted considered the problem important. The final solution became funding from the industry. The follow-up workshop in 19842 was also funded by the industry.  

The participants were chosen among those active in research in the area and who were able to present new and unpublished data. A good balance between those somehow related to the tobacco industry and those working against that industry was present. All participants reviewed and endorsed the summary of the workshops. 

It was claimed during the Court hearings that the tobacco industry had influenced the text in the proceedings. It is clear that the manuscript were sent to the representatives of the industry for comments which is a normal procedure visavi a sponsor. No one witnessing for Rielle and Diethelm during the hearings mentioned that it is very clearly stated in the documentation that the final editing was the responsibility of the organisers and no-one else.  

The results from these workshops were accepted as the scientific truth at the time of their publication and no-one has ever been able to refute the data presented or the conclusions drawn. Neither the Rielle-Diethelm supporters nor the University investigation mentioned that a similar workshop on ETS, organised by the National Institues fo Health in the US came to exactly the same conclusions regarding the risks related to ETS exposure3.  

In a perspective, it is clear that anyone who undertakes a critical appraisal of scientific information, which by its nature will always be conservative, becomes open to attacks from persons who believe in  a certain issue although the evidence is weak. It is obvious that if such critical appraisals are undertaken with funding from the industry involved, it is easy for anyone to destroy the results, not based on the scientific data but because of the "association". This technique was used by Rielle and Diethelm and by adding recent data and evidence that was not available at the time of the work shops, a public opinion based impression of falsification was created. From a scientific point of view this type of action is deplorable.


  1. Rylander R (ed). Environmental tobacco smoke effects on the non-smoker: Report from a workshop.  Scand J resp Dis 1974, suppl 91, pp. 1-90.
  2. Rylander R, Peterson Y,  Snella M-C (eds). ETS - Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Report from a workshop on effects and exposure levels. Eur J Resp Dis 1984, suppl 133, 65:1-152.
  3. Buist S. Report of workshop on respiratory effects of involuntary smoke exposure. National Institutes of Health 1983:pp 1-11.