|Environmental Health and Employee Development Program Manager Rebecca Wale (left) and Health Services Officer Mary Deal (right) welcome Dr. Jeffrey Wigand to Clark College.|
Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, the former tobacco industry executive who blew the whistle on the industry's health safety issues in a landmark 60 Minutes interview and became the basis for Russell Crowe's character in the film “The Insider,” visited Clark College on May 23 as the College launched a new Distinguished Lecture Series.
Directed by Michael Mann, “The Insider” tells the true story of the man who decided to tell the world what the seven major tobacco companies knew about the dangers of their product.
Wigand was a vice president for research and development at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation when he exposed the truth about what the tobacco industry really knew about the dangers of smoking. The information that Wigand shared with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CBS' "60 Minutes" on the tobacco industry's use of additives in tobacco, genetically engineered tobacco, and other aspects of cigarette design significantly contributed to the FDA's decision to regulate cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. Wigand’s public service has been acknowledged by the American Cancer Society.
Jeffrey Wigand's act of coming forward with the truth was also the basis of the highly acclaimed movie "The Insider." Dr. Wigand has said the film was meant to "expose the power that this corporate giant has on the media and the lengths it will go through to suppress the truth and cover up its fifty years of deceit, lies to the public and disregard for public health and safety."
The day before Dr. Wigand's appearance, Clark College presented “The Insider” in the College’s Decker Theatre. In addition to his evening lecture, which was open to the community, Dr. Wigand visited two classes and held a noontime forum for the College community.
In the spring of 2006, Clark College became the first 100% tobacco free campus in the state of Washington and one of the first 100% tobacco free campuses in the nation. This change in policy occurred using a shared governance model, including over two years of data gathering from students, staff and faculty. The policy change was adopted order to provide a healthy working and learning environment.
About Dr. Jeffrey Wigand
A native New Yorker, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand was born in New York City but now calls Mt. Pleasant, Michigan home.
He earned academic degrees with distinction from the University of
Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and more recently
obtained a Masters Degree in Secondary Education (MAT) from the University
Dr. Wigand taught Japanese and Science (Biology, Chemistry and Physical Sciences) at duPont Manual High School, a national school of academic excellence, in Louisville, Kentucky for three years and received national recognition for his teaching skills when he was awarded the Sallie Mae FIRST CLASS TEACHER of the YEAR award in 1996. He was one of 51 teachers recognized nationwide.
|Left to right: James Lantz, RN, of the Clark County Health Department Tobacco Prevention Program, Clark College Health Services Officer Mary Deal and Dr. Jeffrey Wigand.|
Dr. Wigand has always been a teacher, but not always in the classroom. He held senior management positions with a number of leading health care companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, and then served as Vice President for Research and Development for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation from December 1988 to March 1993.
After his separation from Brown & Williamson, Dr. Wigand cooperated with governmental agencies investigating the tobacco industry. Dr. David Kessler, the former Commissioner of the FDA, has acknowledged that Dr. Wigand's assistance was central to the FDA's investigation into the role and effect of nicotine in tobacco products.
Dr. Wigand achieved national prominence in 1995 when he became the tobacco industry's highest ranking former executive to address public health and smoking issues. He made the truth known to the public about the industry's disregard for health and safety during an interview with “60 Minutes” and during a deposition he was compelled to give in an action against the tobacco companies.
Dr. Wigand was sued by Brown & Williamson because of his public disclosures about the industry's efforts to minimize the health and safety issue of tobacco use. Louisville-based Brown & Williamson is owned by BAT Industries, Plc, the world's second largest tobacco concern.
The lawsuit was dismissed as a condition of the June 20, 1997 historic settlement between the Attorneys General of 40 States and the tobacco industry.
Dr. Wigand has received numerous awards and public recognition for
his action in revealing tobacco company research and marketing practices
and he continues his efforts to reduce teen tobacco use through a non-profit
organization he formed, SMOKE-FREE KIDS, Inc.