American Health Foundation

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

The American Health Foundation (AHF) was founded and directed by the late Dr. Ernst L. Wynder, who was probably the early scientist to publish irrefutable information on the health hazards of smoking. Wynder did some very early statistical work on patients (of his mentor, the great lung-surgeon, Dr Evarts A Graham) with advanced lung cancer, and showed that a very high percentage of them were smokers. He is therefore a pioneer of the anti-smoking movement.

He then publicised the fact that the tobacco industry was not funding research and forced them to begin some token support. His own American Health Foundation was one of the main recipients of these funds and the foundation took funds from Philip Morris and also PM's food subsidiary Kraft for research relating to dietary and lifestyle causes of lung cancer. The interests of Wynder widened over time, and he extended the AHF's studies beyond tobacco into more general health issues. (New York Times, 5/13/94; 4/14/94). See DoJ Factual Memo

Ernst L. Wynder
Dietrich K Hoffman
Evarts A Graham
AHF (Doc Index)

However, the American Health Foundation was the organization that performed the study of nicotine in cigarettes for ABC's Day One program that claimed tobacco companies "spike" cigarettes with nicotine. Bogdan Prokopchik (?) of the AHF separated and analyzed the reconstituted tobacco portion of several brands of R.J. Reynolds cigarettes: this reconstituted tobacco would ordinarily contain 25% or less the amount of nicotine found in regular tobacco. The samples AHF tested had up to 70% of the nicotine. Prokopchik claimed that the most likely explanation is that nicotine was added by R.J. Reynolds. (Day One 2/28/94). This was denied.

Many of the additives and flavors (such as cocoa) added to cigarettes to enhance or alter the flavour and keep them moist and fresh are regarded by the FDA as "GRAS", ("Generally Regarded as Safe"). But as the AHF's Associate Director Dietrich K Hoffman (an industrial research chemist) pointed out: "Food is eaten, not burned." He noted that angelica root extract is a known animal carcinogen and should not be used in cigarettes. (WSJ 4/14/94).

The Web site of Integrity in Science states,

Moderating concerns

Wynder was an early and vocal anti-smoking scientist who forced the industry to fund research at his American Health Foundation. But over many years, Dr Ernst L. Wynder effectively blackmailed the industry into supporting the AHF to a greater and greater extent, until both were mutually dependent on the relationship.

He still attacked the industry, but his AHF also depended on them not only for tobacco research but for other projects mainly in diet. The industry's main counter-ploy was to create a large pool of well-funded consultant scientists (IAPAG, ARIA etc) who were persuaded by their generousity to support the industry and attack Wynder's scientific findings, as well as studies done by other genuine scientists. The public then had a problem of "Who do you believe." The AHF then gradually relaxed its attacks on smoking and concentrated instead on a range of other health threats. When Wynder retired, the AHF, under his chief research scientist Dietrich K Hoffman, gradually moderated its aggressively vocal anti-smoking position.

From 1974 to 1990 the American Health Foundation received over $163,000 in grants from Philip Morris. [1]

Regarding an AHF press kit prepared by the PR firm, Ruder and Finn, (a major PR company for the tobacco industry) William Ruder'writes to Philip Morris:

“please note that we have handled it so that there is not one single mention of the problem of smoking and health.”

AHF’s board of directors has included R.H. Adamson from the National Soft Drink Association and executives of Pepsi-Cola and Procter & Gamble. (AHF stationery, 1999) Wynder was fairly elderly, and subject to pressures from both corporate funders, project sponsors, and corporate-aligned members of his board.

The AHF later changed its name to Institute for Cancer Protection (date of change uncertain)

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  1. (Letters from Philip Morris to Dr. Ernst Wynder, president of the American Health Foundation; available at:, Doc ID #s 2015013819, 2015013916, 2021630516, 2021630797, 2021630850, 2021630953; accessed 6/17/03)
  2. (Letter from William Ruder to James C. Bowling, June 19, 1975; available at:, Doc ID # 2015013901; accessed 6/17/03)