Gunter Wille

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

Gunter Wille was a medical doctor (MD) and the Chairman of the German Cigarette Manufacturers' Association. He actually worked for Philip Morris, and he apparently died "a tragic death" at age of about 50. There is no explanation or further mention of his death (which generally indicates heart attack or lung cancer).

He had been the principle organiser of scientific disinformation in West Germany, in a partnership arrangement with Franz X Adlkofer. Adlkofer was a corrupt scientist who worked for a number of industries -- including running a major program later for the cellphone industry. At this time Adlkofer worked for tobacco via the Verband (aka VdC - a so-called German research group.)

They were controlled from 1988 on by Helmut Gaisch from Switzerland.

Document & Timeline

1988 Jan 25 Memo from John Rupp of Covington & Burling who is recruiting "Whitecoats" for the tobacco industry in Norway before a Stockholm meeting. They are setting up the fake consulting organisation for these WhiteCoats, which became known as EGIL. [Attached via T. Malmfors to ARIA and IAPAG].

  • West German Witness Project. You will find attached to this letter correspondence that I have had over the past few weeks with Gunter Wille [Philip Morris West Germany] concerning the West German witness project.
  • United Kingdom Witness Project. I have not yet received clearance from Bill Owen of the TAC [the UK Tobacco Advisory Committee] to proceed with the recruitment of scientists in the UK. I spent a couple of days with Dr Francis Roe last week, and spoke on Friday with Dr George Leslie. [Both key recruiters and tobacco consultants linked with ARIA.]

Francis and George are, as we would say, chomping at the bit to follow up on preliminary recruiting contacts that they made several weeks ago.

My understanding is that Professor Roger Perry (of Imperial College and an ARIA consultant) was to bill us for his work for the TAC, up to a total amount of 5,000 pounds sterling. Bill [Owen] apparently would like to pay Professor Perry directly. I have no problem at all with that. The only really important point is to make sure that Professor Perry is not paid twice for the same work, which should not be too difficult.

My understanding -; from a telex that I received from Helmut Gaisch as well as conversations that I have had with Andrew Whist, Mary Pottorff [Both PM] and Don Hoel SH&B — is that Don has assumed responsibility for lending assistance in connection with the Perry symposium.

[Note this was the loaded industry conference also known as the Imperial College Conference ]

Myron Weinberg of the Weinberg Group is scheduled to be in Europe from Monday, February 8, through Sunday, February 20, recruiting scientific consultants for a major international pharmaceutical client. Myron has assured me that there are sufficient gaps in his schedule to permit him to meet with Toni Musi-Falconi and Florence Castiglioni when he is in Milan; (ZHC group)


1988 Apr 18 Helmut Gaisch's ETS Plan and Budgets for four years.
[Note: Paraphrased - Gaisch ran PM Europe's FTR operation out of Switzerland]

[Note: Gunter Wille MD was Chairman of German Cig. Mfts Assn, and worked for Philip Morris. He died "a tragic death" (no further mention);
Franz X Adlkofer was a corrupt scientist who worked for a number of industries. At this time he worked for tobacco via the Verband (aka VdC - German research group.

1988 May 24: Helmut Gaisch gives a presentation on the "PME ETS Project" (Whitecoats) at Lausanne.

  • BASIC RULE: The arguments advanced by industry and lts consultants must be factually correct.
  • MODUS OPERANDI: Industry scientists & consultants assemble data and "sell" them to members of the target group... the medical & scientific establishment and other modulating forces.
  • CREDIBILITY: The industry scientists & consultants must radiate credibility and confidence through superior knowledge. i e. They must be experts in their fields.
  • TALKING POINTS: Major public international events which assemble personalities and place them and their results into the public domain, making them eligible for further public use.

This group of Whitecoats were to become secret roving ambassadors for the tobacco industry -- maintaining a network of consultants, speaking at scientific meetings, talking to journlists. Progress in recruiting (outside UK)

  • AUSTRIA: (with the Vdc ( Franz Adlkofer)) need for coordination.
  • BELGIUM: Claude Bieve (to be expanded after the 1989 Conference)
  • DENMARK: Tage Voss "Need for more candidates"
  • FINLAND: No success so far in finding suitable candidates. Annuka Lepannen for monitoring and search assistance.
    • Robert Molimard, Hirsch, (Parietetic Commission)
    • Abenhaim Faccini,
    • Contract with CERCHAR: A Brun, Perrin and Sebastien
    • Key Actors: Wille, Konig, Sussmuth
    • Franz Adlkofer (and medical establishment: Thurau, Schmahl, Lenhnert, Uberla
    • Special Consultant on Epidemiology: Berthold Schneider
    • Contract with research institutes: Fresenius (Scholz, Regimius Fresenius) and Neurath.
  • ITALY: Chiappino (main searcher) and Veronesi
  • MIDDLE EAST: No consultants available
  • SCANDINAVIA: Tors Malmfors (coordinator).
    • 1 Norwegian (Odd Nilsen)
    • 3 Swedish under contract: (Daniel Thorburn, Arne Westlin, Lars Werko, Bo Mikaelson) [only 3 of 4 mentioned]
    • Special contact John Wahren
  • SWITZERLAND: [Suggestions only]
    • Contracts with Roger Perry, Francis Roe, George Leslie,
    • David Warburton, Frank Sullivan


1988 June 6 Helmut Gaisch's Working Document ETS (on tackling the problem of passive smoking)

The basic scientific objective is to place ETS with the broader context of indoor air quality ... irrespective of ventilation efficiency.

The present situation, country by country {[paraphrased]

  • Austria is a member of the VdC (Verband). A strong influence of (Franz X) Adlkofer on (H) Klus.
  • Belgium - several contacts with scientists. Coordinator is (Claude) Bieva (needed continual coaching See page 9)
  • Denmark - contact with one popular medical scientist, need for more candidates
  • Finland - (Annuka) Leppanen for monitoring events and research assistance. Need more candidates
  • France - attitude of SEITA scientists create a delicate situation.
    Contract with CERCHAR (A Brun, P Perrin, R Perret, Sebastien - nicotine scientists) very promising.
  • Germany (West) - (Gunter) Wille and (Franz) Adlkofer- on-going contacts with the medical and political establishment
    Contracts with two chartered research institutions: Fresenius (Scholz Regigius Fresenius) and Neurath.
    Professor Schneider -- low-risk epidemiology
  • Italy - (Gerolamo) Chiappino to search for candidates in polytechnical institutions
  • Middle East - No consultants available locally. Fresenius has some contacts in GCC countries
  • Scandinavia - Consultants network on-stream, Karolinksa Institute (Wahren) + Neurath and Bieval doing basic nicotine work
  • Switzerland - contacts with medical establishment.
    Battelle Geneva to conduct monitoring studies, public transport/railways (with ASFC)
  • The Netherlands - Contract with TNO (van der Wal) in flight studies
  • The United Kingdom - Consultants network on-stream
    Imperial College (Roger Perry) under contract for workplace studies
    Michael Burke and Eddie Field under consideration as co-authors for new books.
The work was for the time being, PM-driven. Under Corporate Affairs, + S&T Gaisch, Horst and Robinson, with lawyers Rupp (for Consultants) and Hoel (for Conferences) [Also A Whist for conference support]

Job Description for Consultants

  • keep up with relevant scientific developments, cooperate within the industry consultant network.
  • coordinate consultants activities within country or region
  • present scientific papers at conference + publish in scientific literature. Explain views to the public
  • enter into disputes with members of medical/scientific establishment, and with key politicians, civil servants
  • deal with journalists
  • carry out specific contract research projects.
NMAs or other companies are invited to take part (also financially) in the program


1989 Jun 23 Bild newspaper, front page:

"Cigarette-President Wille declares war on Bonn"
SMOKERS, HOLD BACK YOUR VOTES ... long as the witch-hunt continues. ... Smoker war reaches climax!

Following long-standing campaigns on the part of non-smokers and politicians, smokers are now hitting back on the highest level. Gunter Willie (46), Chairman of the Association of the German Cigarette Industry, makes a frontal attack on: Bonn and the EEC.

"The state takes in 18 billion Deutschmarks in tax each year from smokers.

But nevertheless we are still the victims of a rigorous witch-hunt. If this does not stop then we will advise the 18 million smokers in this country before the next parliamentary election (and these are all smokers): Don't vote for those politicians who want to clamp down on smoking... " [5]

1989 Jun 28 RTL Breakfast TV Interview over attack on politicians.

If the Secretary of the Treasury, Gerhard Stoltenberg, maintains the proposed date for the next increase in excise duty on tobacco, then German cigarette manufacturers will take legal action. "They can't do that to us". Gunter Wille, Philip Morris GmbHR boss and Chairman of the German Cigarette Association fumes.

The German industry had resisted even having warning labels to this point. They were promoting an election boycott. [6] [7]

1989 Jul 3 Der Spiegel article, Wille is chairman of the German Cigarette Association;

Spiegel: New advertising bans represent a threat to the cigarette industry. Have the tobacco concerns lost their hold on politicians in Bonn?
Wille: There are enough restrictions on cigarette advertising in the FRG already . But now the EEC bureaucrats want to force us to knowingly pass on false information to the consumer .
Q: What exactly do you mean by that?
Wille: If the EEC plans were put into practice then we would have to state in our advertising that tobacco enjoyment inevitably leads to certain illnesses. We ought then to print "Smoking causes cancer" or "Smoking kills" on posters and other advertising.
A: That is, after al1, not so wrong .
W: That is absolute nonsense. [8]

1990 End Attempt to ban smoking on Lufthansa flights Five days after the announcement of the ban, the "First-smoking lobby called" a grass-roots boycott by more than 3,500 smokers in Germany. See document "The network of the cigarette industry" This is the text of a presentation which made it clear that the challenge had been called to the cigarette industry: "Kill the ban!" ( "Kill the ban!"). (...) The media played an important role in torpedoing the measure. In the document from Philip Morris stated: "Due to good relations with the editor in chief (of the tabloids), we made sure that ?? our campaign against the air line (Lufthansa)....
{References missing or confused here] - West Germany (Type-in Bates Number) 2501474296
TOBACCO LOBBY AGAINST LUFTHANSA 1990 (Type-in Bates Number) 2025365732/5733

1991 Jul 1 Smoking ban on Lufthansa and other airlines comes into operations. But just when the campaign against the smoking ban really picked up speed, Gunter Wille, then Philip Morris CEO and Chairman of the Association of Cigarette, moved over to become the CEO in early September of the Axel Springer Verlag AG publishing house, where he was also Chairman of the Board.

1993 Wille died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 51 The chairman of the German Federation of Cigarette Manufacturers, Günter Wille, saw smoking as an "enjoyment" and the anti-smoking campaign as "a patronising attempt by 'know-it-all' ascetics who would deny adult citizens the right to choose the wrong kind of pleasure"[19]. Wille died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 51. [9]

1997 May Ferdi Breidbach writes to Geoff Bible (CEO of Philip Morris Inc). He has set up as an independent consultant "after the tragic death of Gunther Wille". [10]