Dietrich Schmaehl

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

Dietrich Schmaehl was a researcher for Philip Morris' biological labs in Europe.

Dr. Schmaehl was a German scientist charged with researching how to reduce the biological activity of cigarette tars, with an eye towards producing a safer cigarette. When told suddenly in 1979 that Philip Morris would cease supporting this research financially, Dr. Schmael wrote a powerful letter to his superior saying that the studies are vital and if PM refused to finance the studies, he would perform them himself outside of the influence of the industry and publish the results, which would include the brand names of the cigarettes he studied. Dr. Schmael's alarming letter was quickly translated into English and a copy sent to Thomas Osdene, research director at Philip Morris. Osdene quickly referred it to Alexander Holtzman, Associate General Counsel for Philip Morris, who said of the letter: "I do feel that this letter is tantamount to blackmail by Schmaehl. I am very much afraid that unless financial support be provided to Schmaehl he will chastise the industry." Upon being confronted with what PM termed internally as blackmail, the company made the decision to capitulate. They decided to continue to fund Schmael's studies, hoping the situation would not continue forever. Said Holtzman in the same letter as above "... [D]iscretion is the better part of valor and I suspect it would make good political sense to support Schmaehl financially again. Whether one will have to live with this forever or make an issue later remains to be seen." [1][2]


  1. Schmael Translation Letter. 3 pp. October 12, 1979. Philip Morris Bates No. 2016000963/0964A
  2. T.S. Osdene, Philip Morris Letter from Schmael to Adlkofer Memorandum. October 31, 1979. Bates No. 1000774066

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