Ragnar C Rylander
(Part 1 - Lorillard contract researcher)
of Sweden was one of the tobacco industry's longest-serving and most diligent scientific lackeys. His speciality for many years was in establishing, organising and running scientific conferences where the funding and control of the tobacco companies was carefuly hidden from view.
He also acted as a consultant and scientific cut-out for INBIFO , a Cologne-based research organization secretly purchased by Philip Morris to conduct research of the type considered too risky to do in America. Later he continued to work for the tobacco industry through his associations with the University of Geneva. and the University of Hong Kong.
In 2001 he took umbrage at the publication of an expose of his activities, and successfully mounted and won a libel case against the two main authors. Fortunately, this was later overturned on appeal, and the University of Geneva then created a Fact-Finding Commission that exposed his dealings.
• Part 1: (this document) Early years working with Tore Dalhamn at the Karolinska Institute on the inhalation of smoke (done for Lorillard)
• Part 2: At the University of Gothenburg and the University of Geneva, working for Philip Morris and its European research organisation INBIFO (Cologne)
• Part 3: The extraordinary Affiare Rylander, where he won a libel action against two Swiss activists over their claims that he had hidden his association with Philip Morris. He lost the final appeal.
Ragnar Rylander first worked as an assisant to Professor Tore Dalhamn who was Sweden's principle researcher into the pulmonary effects of pollution, smoke (particulates and gases) resulting from occupational exposures. He was co-author with Dalhamn of a number of papers in the 1950s and 60s.
Dalhamn had invented a machine which allowed smoke inhalation experiments on cats and rabbits, and they jointly began to work for the American tobacco company Lorillard in 1969 under Dalhamn's supervision, on this animal inhalation work. (He may have worked for Swedish Tobacco beforehand.) They were testing different filters to see which were best at removing phenols — a gas thought to paralyse ciliary function in the throat and lungs of smokers.
Among the cigarettes being tested were the favored Kent brand, which had Microlite filters made of asbestos fibre from 1952 to 1956. The asbestos had been discared by the time Dalhamn and Rylander became involved, but since they were only concerned with mucus formation and lung-clearance, this would not have figured as a problem, anyway.
This research was a genuine attempt by Lorillard to produce a more acceptable (safer?) cigarette by understanding how the pulmonary clearance mechanism was disrupted by addictive smoking. The primary aim was to remove "smokers cough", but lung cancer would also have been high on their list of health problem after 1954.
MISCELLANEOUS NOTES |
Rylander worked through the University of Gothenberg, and also through the University of Geneva and (to a minor degree) through the University of Hong Kong.
He appears to have been a 'mentor' to Dr Linda Koo in Hong Kong. She visited him in Sweden, and he visted her in HK. He had a similar relationship with another researcher at the Geneva University.
Note that biomedical research scientist Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg of the Karolinsk Institute (who also worked for Philip Morris) is Rylander's half-brother.
1962 Nov 6: Tore Dalhalm was Professor at the Statens Institute for Folkhalsan, Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm. This is a letter in reply to HB Parmele (VP and Director of Research) at Lorillard. Dalhalm has built a smoking machine for inhalation research on cats and rabbits and is offering to do some tests for Lorillard. He writes:
As far as I understand it should be very interesting and certainly of considerable value to examine your three types of cigarettes with the method described above, and I am willing to do this.
I must, however, point out that it will involve a considerable extra work for me personally and therefore I suggest that one of my assistants, since many years, Dr Ragnar Rylander , should help me with this work.
Regarding the economical side, I am very thankful for your generousity. I am, however, willing to bear the cost for the smoke apparatus as well as the apparatus for registering the ciliary activiity; but I think you will understandithat nevertheless an investigatilon of this kind will be quite expensive as it entails a lot of work (preparing animals, filming, filming counting,etc.),which has to be done by the laboratory staff beside their ordinary work.
1962 Nov 30: Dalhamn responds to Parmele again saying that his smoking machines are working, and a trial run with three cats showed the animals have reacted with a considerable decrease of the ciliary activity after having smoked 3-5 cigarettes. This decrease in activity has been about 20%.
As to the organizing side I have talked with Dr Rylander and a laboratory assistant, and they are willing to devote themselves to this investigation during January, February and March.
It is probable that we can force the work during these three months so that the results can be available at the end of April or the beginning of May, provided that no unforeseen things will happen as epizootic diseases amongst the animals, trouble with the apparatus etc., which can delay the work.
The cost for carrying through an investigation of this type I estimate to ¢10.000 — $15.000 dollars. [with 100 cats]
He wants to know who will control the publication of results. Dalhamn seems genuinely interested in knowing whether filters remove the ciliary-killer components in cigarettes smoke. [The ciliary function moves mucus in the throat and lungs, and is therefore important for 'lung clearance' (coughing, etc.) Coughing to clear the lungs is good for smokers, but a bad mark for cigarette company sales.
1963 Jan 13: Ragnar Rylander begins writing directly to Parmele (Vice Presdient and Director of Research at Lorillard). He appears to be helping them plan a symposium [which became his forte later] and organising the making of a film about their research processes, He writes:
Enclosed please find a copy of the agreement I have signed with SF-Sandrews concerning our movie about the smoke dosage apparatus. It is for your knowledge only as I already have the letter in which you state that Lorillard is going to pay the film. (sic)
As you see in the sixth paragraph they want part of their payment in advance so would you please forward them 4,833 dolllars according to ¤ 6 a.[the contract clause]
The actual shooting of the film will start January 17th and all scenes taken in connection with the apparatus will probably be completed January 22nd.
Concerning the cilia symposium I enclose the names of a few people who might be of value for different papers and also for the discussion : I think Jose A Rivera would prove an excellent chairman.
1963 Feb 1: Parmele is arranging to visit Dalhamn and Rylander in Stockholm on Feb 13th. This is the beginning of their personal relationship.
1963 Feb 6: Lorillard's Swedish reprentative advises the US company that the tobacco smoking and lung cancer issues are heating up;The antismoking organisations are trying to get warning labels on packets. and they have tape-recorded:
A program in the Swedish television, where Mr O Sonderstorm, the general manager of the Swedish Tobacco Company and Professor Ringertz were questioned [by] a panel.
In all, this program was not at all so negative for the Swedish Tobacco Company. We have the whole program recorded and are enclosing just a little part of it, since this [the call for labeling] was one of the most interesting points.
1963 Mar 21: Tore Dalhamn writes to Parmele. [The meeting in Stockholm appears never to have taken place.]
In the beginning of the next week Dr Rylander and I together with a representative for the Swedish film corporation will discuss the possibilities and the costs for having a moving picture. We will bring them with us when we come over. Note that both Rylander and Dalhamn are going to New York.
1963 Apr 3: Rylander writes to Parmele [Dalhemn is attending a conference in Paris] putting back the dates of their New York visit to May. He also adds:
The work with the film script is also progressing and I will discuss the general outlay with the producer-to-be early next week."
1963 Apr 8: Parmele to Rylander confirming visit times:
Naturally we will be very much interested in learning of the progresa which you are able to make with respect to a film script covering your technique.
1963 May 8: Dalhamn is back in Sweden after the New York trip, but Rylander hasn't returned with him.
1963 June 18: Parmele is commissioning more research from Dalhamn, and reminding him to publish his material (hopefully in Nature).
[Note how easily the dates are mistyped on page 2!]
In order to arrive at au estimate of the cost oi such a movie you and Dr Rylander will write a script which will enable the movie people to more accurately evaluate the problems involved.
1963 Jul 17: Parmele is anxious to know about the progress with publishing in Nature and about the film.
Rylander replies a few days later [Dalhamn is on holidays]. He has managed to get some of their results talked about on French radio and the 'first layout of the [film] script' is in hand.
1963 Sep 12: Rylander to Parmele: He is giving a paper at the Madrid International Conference on Occupational Health in September and sends them a copy. The Film script is progressing well — now in rewrite stages for filming in September.
Dr Ernst Wynder has been in touch with Dalhamn asking for early access to experimental results for a review of the 'carcinogenic effect of tobacco smoke". Dalhamn has sloughed off the request politely. [Parmele says this reply was 'appropriate']
Dalhamn's reply to Wynder
1963 Sept 18: /E Both Rylander and his wife have been asked to visit the USA at Lorillard's expense circa September 30.
1963 Nov 13: Dalhamn to Parmele. They are expecting Parmele and his wife to visit Stockhom in December, and have invited them to the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony and dinner. The film script and costs will be discussed then. Estimated costs were Swedish Croners 75.000 plus additional fees to Rylander and Dalhamn.
The Cilia paper has been accepted by Nature.
1963 Dec 20: Parmele to Dalham.
- The Movie will be funded by Lorillard and extra payments will be made to Rylander who is currently teaching in Northern Sweden. ($500)
- They want 1000 reprints of the Nature article.
- They are hoping he will get an article based on his Colorado speech in the American Review of Respiratory diseases.
- They want to piggy-back on phenol research he is doing for the Swedish Tobacco Company.
- They want further research inhalation studies on cats and rabbits.
1964 Jan 11: The release of the first Surgeon General's Report: Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. It has taken a year of research by a ten-man committee. Their various subcommittees have studied 7,100 research reports. Tobacco stocks went into free-fall. Smokers cut back for two years following this (the second) scare.
1964 Jan 14: /E Both Dalhamn and Rylander were flown to Lorillard in New York for a short discussion on the implications of the US Surgeon General's Report on Cigarette Smoking and Health.
1964 Feb 20: Rylander suggest to Parmele that with the film, since there is a dearth of research data on some of the Kent filters, that they should just leave out the graphs so the evidence isn't so obvious — or alternately wait for more research to fill in the gaps.
1964 Feb 27: Parmele now wants more research work done on the Kent filters, which he knows will delay the film. He points out that:
The purpose of'the movie is twofold — 1: To visually describe the technique involved and 2: To show the dramatic difference between filtered and non-filtered smoke with respect to ciliary inhibition.
[Note he is asking for genuine research, although Rylander has suggested just cutting out some of the graphs to avoid some of the problems.]
1964 Feb 28: A followup letter the next day from Parmele chastises Rylander for suggesting the ploy of omitting data.
We regret very much that we must disagree with you completely on the matter of omitting any and all experimental results from the film.
From our standpoint this will weaken the value of the film very materially since we feel that it is imperative that an example be given in the film of how the technique works on cigarette smoke and such an exsmpl should indicate the marked difference between filtered and non-filtered smoke.
We are very sorry that we must adopt an attitude a little different from yours but again we repeat, that it is our firm and honest opinion that the film would be very incomphete without an example of what can be learned through the technique described with respect to different kind's of cigarette smoke.
1964 March: /E Rylander has been to the UK to film the worst city air pollution (Leeds) for the film.
This is the current film script
1964 Mar 11: Rylander sends Lorillard the latest film script. He will be passing though New York on his way to Los Angeles and return for a metting on March 16.
1964 Mar 23: Parmele's internal Monthly report records that:
Dr. Rylander paid us a brief visit on Monday, March 16th, during which visit the script for the movie was agreed upon, current experimental work was discussed, the status of Dr Dalhamn's-three publications was reviewed and we learned that Drs. Rylander and Dalhamn will pay us a visit for several days some time after April 14th.
[They also have similar work being carried on by Wynder and Hoffman looking at charcoal filters, and by Freddy Homberger and Bernfeld at Bio-Research Labs.]
1964 Apr 29: Rylander and Dalhamn have been in the USA and visited Durham, and the Duke University (Dr Tosteson) [This is the campus of the university associated with RJ Reynolds].
- Parmele has given the OK on the final cut of the film (with some minor script changes).
- The Swedes have a cilia article about to appear in the American Review of Respiratory Disease and Lorillard wants a thousand reprints. [Later they order 1300 direct from the magazine]
- Dr Morris Fishbein [a long-term consultant with Lorillard] is promoting a longer version of their paper on filters and cilia to the editor of JAMA.
- They have not heard back from Dr Tosteson about the cilia symposum.
1964 May 5: Parmele to Dalhamn: Professor Tosteson at the Duke University will sponsor a symposium on the physiology of cilia. He has selected a Chairman, and is running the symposium About thirty scientists will be invited to a Durham conference in the fall. Clearly Lorillard's name is being kept out of this operation.
Rylander is now being ccd on letters to Tore Dalhamn, which suggests they are not working closely together now. [Rylander has been doing pollution work for an oil refinery.]
1964 May 5: Morris Fishbein [a long-term consultant to Lorillard] and his wife Anne are staying at the Grand Hotel in Stockhom and is expecting "Bud" [Schultz] (one of Parmele's associates) to arrive shortly. He has been visiting Dalhamn's laboratory and highly praises his techniques. He writes:
I have also seen some of his results which are highly favorable to Kent as compared with several other types of cigarets. Fishbein is also receiving the celebrity treatment by the Swedish media, and expects to receive an award from the Swedish Medical Association.
[Lorillard scientists and the Karolinska group are virtually on weekly commutes between the two countries, each glad-handing the other]
1964 May 13: Rylander to Parmele at Lorillard. He accepts the invitation to the symposium, gives details of who is to be paid for work on the film, and details for ordering reprints on the American Review of Respiratory Diseases article. [which was essentially Dalhamn's Colorado University Medical School speech].
1964 May 22: Dalhemn to Parmele. He has been offered a job as a physician with a newspaper company, and has clearly considered taking it — and discussed this with Parmele in New York. Parmele has made him some sort of counter-offer to keep him working.
I hope we can discuss these details in June or July when Dr. Rylander and I are coming over to present the results of our experiments and to participate in the preliminaries for the conference on "ciliology", which will take place in the autumn.
Once again, please, accept my sincere thanks for your grand generousity and I want to stress that our cooperation hitherto for me has been very pleasant and I hope we will find a way to cooperate also in the future.
Sections: Part 2: Part 3: