Smoking And Health Promotion In Nazi Germany

Popular health magazines ... contain warnings against the dangers of smoking. The scientific research into the health effects of smoking goes hand in hand with extensive health promotion activities aimed at reducing the prevalence of the habit.

Transportation, workplaces, and public buildings become targets for smoking reduction campaigns. Smoking is prohibited in many individual workplaces and public buildings, including government bureaus, hospitals, and rest homes.
Tobacco manufacturers cannot represent the use of tobacco as a sign of manliness.

Excerpts from Contemporary News"...

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Nazi Germany,

1937 - 1944

At FORCES, we have been accused many times to be out of place when comparing the antismoking propaganda with fascism and nazism. Sometimes, outraged readers have written to us comments like this: "Anyone that would equate Nazism with smoking bans has a screw loose! Go shoot yourself in a bunker!" Many people believe that we are exaggerating, and one cannot compare smoking restrictions to the Nazi environment. Perhaps these people should check their history.

People who know us, also know that we do not have the tendency to exaggerate. To the contrary, we try to stay as factual as possible. It is not our fault if the whole antismoking affair has become a sinister emulation of the Nazi regime.

So we have decided to prove our case.

Here are excerpts from "Smoking and health promotion in Nazi Germany", published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1994; 48:220-223), authored by George Davey Smith (Dept. of Public Health, University of Glasgow), Sabine A. Ströbele (Institute of Medical Sociology, University of Hamburg), and Matthias Egger (Dept. of Social and Preventive Medicine, Univ. of Beme).

This commentary depicts with great precision and accurate bibliographical references the astonishing similarity of the nazi propaganda against smoking with the current propaganda of the antismoking industry. Had we removed the refereces to the Nazis, the reader would think that this is contemporary material.

We hope that what follows is an eye-opener for people of good conscience about what is going on in these bleaktimes. The resurgence of fascism under the guise of health is not new, and we better learn the lesson of history once and for all, or the price to pay for our ignorance will be dear indeed.

To quote US senator Jesse Helms: "One definition of stupidity is trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result."

From the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (1994; 48:220-223)


In his recent paper in this journal "A birth cohort analysis of the smoking epidemic in West Germany", Brenner presents data showing that smoking rates increased dramatically from the late 1920s onwards and that the reductions now being seen are limited to men with higher education. His conclusions are that intensified education programmes are required among teenagers, together with restrictive smoking policies at the workplaces and on transportation systems. Brenner believes that the relatively limited progress made against smoking in Germany is due to the slow adoption of antismoking campaigns compared with other countries such as the USA. In this commentary we show that, contrary to these assertions, energetic antismoking campaigns were adopted in Germany at a very early stage. Indeed all of the activities Brenner now commends were vigorously implemented during the Nazi period in Germany, with, as he clearly demonstrates, little effect on stemming the growing tide.


Yesterday as it istoday: contempt of the right to smoke.

While accusations about the health damaging effects of tobacco stretch back over the centuries, a particularly strong tradition of scientific investigation emerged in Weimar Germany and was developed during the Nazi period. Take, for example, the case of smoking and lung cancer.


From the late 1920s on, Fritz Lickint published a series of detailed reviews of smoking and lung cancer trends, of ecological associations, autopsy series, experimental annual studies, and clinical reports which, he already considered in 1929, left no doubt that tobacco smoke was a major cause of lung cancer. In 1939, Franz Muller, from Cologne, performed what is generally recognised as the earliest controlled study, in which the smoking histories of 80 male lung cancer cases were compared with those of 86 ill defined control subjects. A markedly higher proportion of the former were found to be heavy smokers.

This activity occurred against a backdrop of official concern regarding the health damaging effects of smoking. Conti, the Reich Health Führer, established the "Bureau Against the Dangers of Alcohol and Tobacco" in 1939. In 1942 an "Institute for the Struggle against the dangers of Tobacco" was established at the University of Jena, under the directorship of Professor Karl Astel.

Originating from this institute in 1943 was the first formal case-control study of smoking and lung cancer, a convincing investigation in which Schairer andSchuniger showed a sophisticated understandingof the potential biases which could distort the findings. They included both population and clinical control series and examined whether changes in smoking pattern consequent upon illness could lead to artifictious results. It can now be calculated that the dose- response association between smoking and lung cancer risk in their studyis significant at the p

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