Jeffrey Wigand, the man who disclosed the manipulation of ammonia to enhance the effect of nicotine in cigarettes

Jeffrey Wigand, the man who disclosed the manipulation of ammonia to enhance the effect of nicotine in cigarettes

Goran Lefkov

Tobacco industry has been known to manipulate science since the 1950s and 1960s when it poured money into “scientists” to dispute the findings of real scientists who came out with claims about the harmfulness of nicotine to human health.

Jeffrey Wigand appeared a little later, in the mid-90s, on February 4, 1996, with the truth about ammonia as an enhancer of the effect of nicotine in cigarettes. He first went public on CBS News’ 60 Minutes.

Wigand began working as a researcher at Brown & Williamson in January 1989 and was fired on March 24, 1993. According to him, he was fired as a whistleblower because he knew that senior corporate executives had knowingly approved the addition of additives to their cigarettes that were carcinogenic to the health of both smokers and non-smokers. They also caused addiction in smokers. The most well-known ingredient that caused a range of harmful effects is coumarin. Brown and Williamson undertook a concerted effort to discredit Wigand. They hired Research Group International to prepare a 500-page dossier on Wigand, which was distributed to the media. The dossier backfired as the media and journalists investigated the allegations in it, and found that many allegations of misconduct were unsubstantiated or trivial.

In the TV show Wigand emphasized that he had received many threats, even threats to his life. He received a letter with a bullet at his home address, which he handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), but instead of investigating the bullet, they confiscated his computer.

In 1996, Vanity Fair wrote an article entitled “The Man Who Knew Too Much”.

In 1999, a film was made based on this story, which achieved great fame. The movie was called “Insider”, directed by Michael Mann, starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

After leaving Brown and Williams, he was employed as a teacher of physics, biology and Japanese in a school in the US state of Kentucky and in 1996 he received the award of the best teacher in Kentucky.

Jeffrey Wigand was born in 1942 in New York, where he spent his childhood. He is a Vietnam veteran. Wigand is now 80 and lives in Michigan with his second wife, Hope Elizabeth May.