Dr. Jeffrey Wigand is one of the most famous whistle blower’s in the United States. His testimony against the Brown and Williams Tobacco Corporation (B&W) revealed unethical tactics used to delude the American public against the cancer causing additives and the addictiveness of nicotine in tobacco. Wigand was born on December 17, 1942 in New York City. He was one of five children in a strongly devout Catholic family. His early childhood was spent in the Bronx and when he was a teenager he moved to Pleasant Valley, New York. His parents were strict disciplinarians who gave little affection to their children. Little is known about his mother but his father was a mechanical engineer. Wigand had aspirations of becoming a doctor and worked part time as a scrub nurse at a local hospital. In 1960 he attended the Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie where he excelled in chemistry and biology and was an avid cross-country runner.
In 1961 he dropped out of college and joined the Air Force. Wigand’s first duty station was a United States military base in Misawa, Japan. He was there for 2 years and ran an operating room. During his spare time he taught English in exchange for learning Japanese and studied the martial art of judo ultimately becoming a black belt. Although he served a tour in Vietnam during 1963, the war hadn’t really started yet and so was not involved with any conflict. Finishing his enlistment of 4 years in the military, he returned home and enrolled in the State University of New York to resume his studies. While attending a judo class he met his first wife Linda, fell in love and married in 1971. His education included a B.A. in Chemistry, an M.A. in biochemistry and culminated with a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1973.
Wigand quickly launched into a professional career where his first job was a research position at Boehringer Mannheim Corporation. He ultimately spent 17 years working in senior management positions for various health care companies to include the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. During this time his wife suffered from multiple sclerosis which caused their marriage to deteriorate until finally ending in divorce. In 1986 he remarried to a Johnson & Johnson employee named Lucretia. All of his working experience paid off when in 1988 he landed a job as vice president for research and development of a safer cigarette at B&W.
While doing research for B&W, Wigand discovered they were enhancing the effect of their cigarettes nicotine through a process called ammonia chemistry. The process boosted nicotine making it absorb rapidly in the lungs and affecting the brain and central nervous system quickly as well. As he started to ask questions about the cigarettes safety he was stonewalled by company attorneys and told in essence to shut up. Wigand had just started his job there and was making $300,000 a year. Since his daughter had spina bifada and required extensive medical treatments, he decided not to rock the...