In 1996, Jeffery Wigand, a senior research scientist at Brown & Williamson Tobacco (B & W) tobacco company, became the first “whistleblower” in the tobacco industry.
He actively contacted Lowell Bergman, the producer of CBS’s “60 minutes” program, and hoped to disclose the truth about tobacco that B & W witnessed during its work. B & W knew from the beginning to the end that combustible cigarettes and their additives would cause harm to human health.
What’s more, nicotine is an addictive substance.
Jeffery Wigand also became the main prototype in the movie “the insider” and was put on the big screen. Starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, the film reveals the real but unknown “evil” side of the tobacco industry. After its release in 1999, it caused a great sensation.
The biggest scam in the United States in 1994
When Jeffery Wigand first joined B & W in 1989, the tobacco giant said it wanted to develop “a safer cigarette” – one that contains fewer cancer causing substances that can cause disease. The idea delighted the scientist with the American dream to develop a premier Smokeless Cigarette that could beat Renault tobacco.
Jeffery Wigand said in the “sixty minutes” interview that people who like cigarettes will always try to smoke, and if they can bring them harm reducing products, then I will be very honored to make this change.
However, when Jeffery Wigand participated in the international research and development conference of British American Tobacco (BAT) and created a record file of “de harming cigarettes” by computer, B & W’s lawyer team stepped in and deleted part of the 18 page file.
Lawyers don’t want to see the word “de harming cigarettes” as it indirectly means that existing B & W cigarettes are harmful. Thomas Sandifer banned the team’s actions, saying “I don’t want to hear any more about healthy cigarettes.”
However, Jeffery Wigand had to give up his original intention of entering the company and began to study the existing ingredients in cigarettes.
Burning tobacco is the working principle of cigarettes, and its addictive nature is the pleasure brought by “nicotine delivery system”. The vigorous development of tobacco business is based on attracting more people and buying more cigarettes.
This requires artificial manipulation of cigarette ingredients to make nicotine more efficient.
Jeffery Wigand revealed that B & W will use ammonia chemistry technology in its products, which can make nicotine absorbed by the lungs faster after burning and affect the central nervous system. In addition, the use of transgenic plants will increase nicotine content.
For coumarin’s research, Jeffery Wigand gave up his $300000 annual salary in tobacco companies. Coumarin can sweeten cigarettes, but in experiments, it can cause lung tumors in mice. Until 1992, this substance was still used by B & W in the tobacco of pipe.
B & W has a large number of documents, including more chemicals in cigarettes, which are enough to support the conclusion that smoking is harmful to health. However, B & W has established a strong legal barrier to protect these documents from the public.
Jeffery Wigand spent more than 20 years studying human health, and every job in the tobacco company was a deep condemnation of his idealism. In the end, Jeffery Wigand submitted the documents proving coumarin’s carcinogenesis to the CEO, and objected to adding the substance to cigarettes, saying that he could not continue to work with the truth in mind.
On March 24, 1993, Thomas Sandifer was just promoted to the position of CEO, and Jeffery Wigand was dismissed by the company for the reason of “lack of communication”. After a few months, they stopped his compensation and medical insurance, because Jeffery violated the company’s confidentiality principle.
The war between old employees and old employers is on the rise. The seriousness of the tobacco problem has strained the FDA and the United States, launching the largest tobacco hearing in the United States.
The biggest lie in America in 1994
“In recent decades, tobacco companies have not fulfilled the corresponding responsibilities and obligations as all American enterprises do. When it comes to harm, companies that sell aspirin, cars, soda all have strict penalties.
So far, a number of health institutions have published experimental reports on tobacco induced diseases.
The hearing marks a new relationship between Congress and tobacco companies. The rules of the past have been eliminated. We hope that this hearing can reach a consensus with tobacco companies to reduce the great public health risks brought by tobacco. The journey of ten thousand miles begins with one step, and today may be the first step we have taken. ”
It was part of a speech by Henry Waxman, a member of the US House of Representatives, before the hearing began.
After more and more health agencies and who accused cigarette burning of harming human body, the US Congress held a hearing. Seven leading tobacco companies: American tobacco, Phillip Morris us, R.J. Reynolds tobacco, Brown & Williamson Tobacco. The CEOs of Liggett Group, US tobacco and Lorillard tobacco have all been pushed to the center of the spotlight in Washington.
Unfortunately, tobacco companies have totally denied or evaded the social challenge.
Tobacco executives don’t need, or want, a “new relationship” with Congress. They rely more on past credible strategies.
James Johnston, CEO of R.J. Reynolds, was asked by the U.S. House of Representatives whether cigarettes can cause heart disease, emphysema, lung cancer, bladder cancer, stroke. James Johnston replied that it may. When asked why there is a health risk, the CEO of the tobacco group said: I don’t know. At present, the claims against cigarette disease are only based on data statistics, and there is no clinical trial to confirm this.
Andrew Tisch, CEO of Lorillard tobacco company, once said publicly that he did not believe that smoking cigarettes would lead to lung cancer. In court, Henry Waxman, a member of Parliament, asked: as a manufacturer of cigarettes, in the face of scientific and social doubts, are you not interested in finding the problem of your own products? What did you do to find out why?
Andrew Tisch replied: we have looked up a lot of data, but these data are statistical in nature, and can not convince us about the relationship between tobacco and death.
William Campbell, CEO of Phillip Morris US, also said in court that he did not understand the link between tobacco and multiple complications.
In addition, the CEOs of seven tobacco giants took turns swearing in a congressional committee: “I believe nicotine is not addictive.”
James Johnston of Renault tobacco compared cigarettes to milk, coke, candy, Twinkies and other foods, and said: “We did nothing to attract cigarette consumers. We control nicotine in cigarettes as much as coffee makers control caffeine.”
William Campbell of Philip Morris said: I am a smoker, but I am not a drug addict, and basically I can live in a normal way. My judgment is not impaired.
As competitors in the market, CEOs are now on the same side, working together to protect the reputation of tobacco.
There was an uproar.
The negations in these trials infuriated the house of Representatives, and Henry Waxman summed up with a sharp warning: you all say you don’t know, and as the chief executive of a tobacco company, you have an obligation to know, you have an obligation to say more than you don’t know.
Who is upholding social justice
After the tobacco lawsuit, seven chief executives were satirized as “Seven Dwarfs”.
An editorial in the New York Times pointed out that even though we are very familiar with the deceptive methods used by those responsible for the tobacco industry’s defenders, who are responsible for the deaths of 500000 Americans every year, this is still a shameful era for American business.
And in a shameful era, how much does it cost for those who adhere to social justice or self idealism?
In the movie “the insider”, the personal life of the whistleblower Jeffery Wigand is greatly threatened – receiving anonymous threatening phone calls and threatening emails, being monitored, and facing life risks for his wife and daughters… They had to travel with guns and apply to the FBI for protection. The fact that he worked for a tobacco company made Jeffery Wigand run into many obstacles in the process of seeking a job, and finally found a job as a chemistry teacher in a middle school.
B & W not only accused Jeffery Wigand of violating the confidentiality agreement signed, but also the lawyer team used all resources to carry out “personal investigation”. Through the media, it announced that Jeffery Wigand had been drinking for a long time, had the act of stealing in the company, and had the act of domestic violence against his wife at home, so his social credibility was very low. A “deliberate and irresponsible retaliation for the company” employee personality has been fully built.
It is very important for tobacco companies to disconnect the authority of information and information sources.
As the media, CBS TV has also generated great pressure.
Lawrence Tisch, then chairman of CBS, was the father of Andrew Tisch, CEO of Lorillard tobacco in the 1994 tobacco case “Seven Dwarfs”.
Would a father risk sending his son to prison for a show?
Gordon Smith, a lawyer for B & W, said the tobacco company is likely to sue CBS because the TV interview with Jeffery Wigand was generally inaccurate.
Executives worry that a lawsuit can easily cost billions of dollars. If the cost of reporting the truth is to bring down the whole company, is it worth it?
Everyone knows that the opponent is the tobacco industry with an extremely strong public relations team, a team of lawyers, a team of lobbyists and a lot of money.
After listing a variety of risks, CBS top decided to cancel the broadcast of the program. This decision caused the producer Lowell Bergman’s strong opposition. This kind of sudden betrayal made the producer and Jeffery Wigand become two weak forces. They stand on the opposite side of interests. They pursue truth and freedom, but they become the target of the public.
However, the story of Jeffery Wigand from CBS employees provided the “New York Daily News” and the “Wall Street Journal” followed closely with a well-established interview release. With the reduction of legal risk, CBS has the courage to publish its own exclusive original interview.
Tobacco Control Era
The harm of cigarette to health has always been one of the subjects of medical research. Since the 1950s, the United States has gradually embarked on the road of tobacco control, striving to change the habit of the public regarding smoking as pride.
Compared with the huge interest groups in the tobacco industry, any organization is very weak.
In the mid-1990s, the fight between tobacco control forces and tobacco giants was very historic – the rock solid status began to crack.
“Do you regret coming forward?” Mike William, the host, asked in the “sixty minutes” interview. Do you regret being an informer? ”
Jeffery Wigand replied: sometimes I do hope I didn’t. Also, sometimes I feel like I need to force myself to do it. If you ask me, give me another chance, will I still make the same choice, or whether it is worth it, I will give you a positive answer. I believe in the end, people will see the truth.