John Wahren

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

John Wahren was a tobacco helper scientist from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. His special expertise was in the "Metabolic pathways of nicotine." He worked closely with two key members of the IAPAG group, (Nancy Balter and Sorrell Schwartz. at Georgetown University on similar research lines. Their legitimate research interests were in understanding what made cigarettes addictive and why did they have this euphoric effect on smokers -- and to discover what other chemicals could subsituted for these addictive highs. They funded their research by also helping the tobacco industry deny that addiction or carcinogenisis existed, and by organising and running pseudo scientific front groups on air quality.

In February 1995 the new CEO of Philip Morris, Geoffrey C Bible took control of the tobacco industry's main fightback program and completely reformed the organisational structure of the company's lobbying and disinformation activities. Philip Morris virtually dominated the global tobacco industry's fightback program at this time and he realised that the problem had become global, rather than being confined to just the developed world.

Bible therefore merged the active lobbying/scientific-witness arms of both the domestic (PM USA) company and the international (PMI) division (with many national companies) and creating three new, closely-linked headquarter entities.

  • Corporate Affairs (CA) now ran the main disinformation campaigns, and they looked after the 'grants' and 'donations' given to think-tanks and university institutions which housed scientific lobbyists for the industry.
  • Worldwide Scientific Affairs (WSA) took over the old Science & Technology/Scientific Affairs operations. It now controlled the many academic and scientific consultants that had been recruited around the world: the open/admitted advisers who were paid by annual retainers; those who received grants and were open about it while always claiming to be "independent" of tobacco influence; and the numerous WhiteCoats who preferred to operate in secret, and were generally paid only on a services-rendered basis. WhiteCoats were usually paid through their own private consultancy firms, or via pseudo-scientific associations (IAPAG, ARIA, EGIL, IAI, ARTIST etc.) set up specifically to provide a money-laundry service and cover.
  • Worldwide Regulatory Affairs (WRA), was an extension of the old Washington lobbyist in-house staff, but with experts in other countries, and now operating on a global scale. They did the political lobbying and wrote the wording of the bills. The were mainly lawyers.

As part of this restructure, the head office of the company requested information about the scientists who had been recruited and run over the previous few years by the regional divisions of the company. This document from the Swiss branch run by Helmut Gaisch and Helmut Reif gives us their evaluation of some of their contractors. See original document:

Prof John Wahren, Dept Surgical Sciences, Karolinska Institute

  • In charge of the Clinical Physiology Unit at Karolinska. An expert in diabetics and interest in nicotine. Close contacts with the tobacco research group at the Karolinska
    [Stockholm's Karolinska Institute had a whole cadre of scientists who happily worked with the Swedish Tobacco Co., Philip Morris, and other tobacco companies: Ragnar Rylander, Tore Dalhamn, Rune Cederlof, Lars T Friberg and a half-dozen others. Wahren also developed a working relationship with John Gorrod and the IAPAG group led by Sorrell Schwartz ]
  • Value to PM: Source of information and good contacts in Scandinavia.
    [Wahren and Gorrod worked together at various times and did similar work. Their value to the tobacco industry lay in the prestige attached to them as academic nicotine researchers.]
  • Funding of $10,000 pa but no specific tasks
    [Wahren was also a member of David Warburton's ARISE ('addictive drugs are good for you') group, and a de facto member of the US IAPAG ]