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Jeffrey Wigand, former tobacco executive who ‘blew the whistle’ on tobacco industry research and practices, to speak about his experiences Jan. 24 at Syracuse University
Jeffrey Wigand, former tobacco executive who ‘blew the whistle’ on tobacco industry research and practices, to speak about his experiences Jan. 24 at Syracuse UniversityJanuary 12, 2001Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Jeffrey Wigand, the former Brown and Willamson Tobacco Corp. executive labeled a “whistle blower” for his disclosures to federal agencies about the addictive nature of tobacco–disclosures that led to a landmark settlement between the tobacco industry and the attorneys general of 40 states–will visit Syracuse University Jan. 24.
He will speak on the tobacco industry, nicotine addiction, and his experience as a whistle blower from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Kilian Room, Room 500 in the Hall of Languages. His visit is sponsored jointly by SU’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Health Enhancement (S.A.P.H.E.) and the American Lung Association of Central New York.
Wigand joined the Louisville, Ky.-based cigarette manufacturer Brown and Williamson in 1988 as vice president of research and development. In his $300,000 position, he was charged with developing a “safer” cigarette.
Wigand began speaking out about wrongdoings in the tobacco industry in the mid-’90s, revealing tobacco company research and marketing practices. He became the highest-ranking executive to go public with what he knew. Wigand cooperated with governmental agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in their investigation of the tobacco industry. Then-FDA Commissioner David Kessler acknowledged that Wigand was central to the agency’s investigation into the role and effect of nicotine in tobacco products.
His 1995 interview with “60 Minutes” became the subject of controversy when the network decided to shelve the interview for fear of a lawsuit from Brown and Williamson. The interview was eventually broadcast.
Brown and Williamson sued Wigand because of his disclosures to government agencies and the public, but the lawsuit was dismissed as part of the landmark settlement between the tobacco industry and the attorneys general of 40 states on June 20, 1997.
Wigand’s story was chronicled in the 1999 movie “The Insider” starring Russell Crowe and Al Pacino, and has been the subject of several documentaries.
A native of New York, Wigand earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, and master’s and doctoral degrees in biochemistry at SUNY Buffalo. He also received a master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Louisville. Prior to his position at Brown and Williamson, Wigand held senior management positions with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. He has also taught Japanese and chemistry in public schools in Louisville.
Wigand now resides in Charleston, S.C,. and oversees his nonprofit foundation, Smoke Free Kids. The foundation offers educational seminars using scientific methods of discovery, actual industry data and documents in an educational process intended to explain how the tobacco industry targets children and youths to generate new ads. Wigand also speaks frequently on the subject of tobacco and consults nationwide and in Canada.