Dr. Jeffrey Wigand is the highest-ranking whistleblower in the tobacco industry. His story received international attention due to the film ‘The Insider’, featuring Russell Crowe as Jeffrey Wigand.
As a scientist, he served as Vice President for Research and Development for Brown & Williamson, a subsidiary of tobacco giant British American Tobacco. After his leaving from Brown & Williamson in 1993, he cooperated with many governmental agencies investigating the tobacco industry, including the Dutch government.
Currently he spends his time and efforts on lectures around the world as an expert witness and consultant on various tobacco issues and on his non-profit organization Smoke-Free Kids, Inc. He is an expert witness in many cases against the tobacco industry and supports Sickofsmoking.
What makes a cigarette such a dangerous product?
A cigarette is a scientifically designed drug delivery device that is intentionally engineered to deliver nicotine to the brain in seconds. Tobacco smoke contains between 4.000 and 8.000 chemicals. Many of them are toxic, some of them highly addictive, such as nicotine. By adding chemicals to nicotine, smoking becomes even more addictive.
Some of the chemicals are potent carcinogens. These chemicals come from a variety of sources. Most are naturally produced by pyrolysis (the burning of a cigarette), some come from the chemicals in the soil, the paper surrounding the tobacco column or enter through the manufacturing process. Others are added deliberately. All in all, these chemicals include carcinogens and other potent toxicants that, when burned and inhaled, are transported to numerous organs in the human body.
What is the purpose of the ventilation holes in cigarette filters?
There are two types of ventilation holes in a cigarette. First of all there are small holes in the white cigarette column paper. The paper is perforated to allow for oxygen to penetrate the burning coal. The size and number of the holes can be controlled based on cigarette design specifications.
In addition to the holes in the tobacco column paper there are those drilled in the filter by laser. These hidden micro-perforations are supposed to dilute the main stream of smoke. They are very hard to see, but if you enlarge a picture of a filter approximately 50 times, you can see them very clearly. The holes are placed about 13 millimeters from the tip of the filter. Exactly where you hold the cigarette. What happens if you smoke? You block the holes with the tip of your fingers! As a consequence, you inhale more, much more tobacco smoke and toxicants than it says on the package.
What is the intent of these ventilation holes on the filters?
To deceive the consumers as well as the governments who allow cigarettes to be sold! They clearly defraud us! Government bodies such as the RIVM in The Netherlands test cigarettes with machines. These machines have rubber lips, they take puffs just as a smoker does. But unlike a smoker, a machine doesn’t have fingers to block the ventilation holes. The smoke is heavily diluted, so the relative amount of tar and nicotine is significantly lowered before it enters the machine. However, this is not case with human smokers. Smokers inhale about double the amount of tar and nicotine. So the information on cigarette boxes about the amount smokers inhale is faulty. The industry is misleading the consumers and their governments.
Do you believe the Dutch prosecutor will start a case against the tobacco industry?
I haven’t spoken to the prosecutor and I am not an expert on Dutch law, but I believe there is a vey strong case. As an expert witness I have received questions from the prosecutor and I can tell you they are extremely interested. With good reason:
a cigarette is a product of death, designed to defraud the smoker.
Will we see a ban on cigarettes in our lifetime?
It depends on how long you will live and where you live. Finland will ban cigarettes in 2040, New Zealand in 2030. I’ve been consulted by many governments on how to stop the tobacco industry. Higher prices are effective, but it’s far more effective to stop the industry from selling cigarettes altogether. So that is what I’m aiming for.