Blowing Smoke

Posted 19th March 2015 by Dave Cross
Jeffrey Wigand once worked as vice president for a subsidiary of British American Tobacco. He was tasked with the development of (what some would term ridiculous) reduced-harm cigarettes. It is on this basis that he is considered an “expert” in the area.

Film buffs may recall his story from Russell Crowe’s The Insider where he revealed that tobacco companies added known harmful ingredients to cigarettes to promote faster nicotine delivery and increased levels of addiction. Chemicals put in to the products included coumarin and ammonia. He also worked as a general manager for Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster – a glowing CV.

Wigand demonstrates his thorough knowledge of the market by questioning the motivation behind the range of substitute nicotine products the tobacco industry is producing. In addition to traditional NRT products, he questions why products like mint nicotine sweets, smokeless tobacco products and e-cigarettes are being produced. “Were they developed for quitting? Or were they developed for maintaining addiction? If I maintain addiction I always have a market,” Wigand said.

Those with more than a cursory knowledge of vaping history will recall that Mr Hon Lik developed the first one as a quitting tool. All advancements into 3rd Gen products was driven by fellow quitters seeking to improve taste and vape quality. Big Tobacco has not developed them and has jumped on the bandwagon as a way of combatting declining sales of their traditional product.

But Wigand doesn’t let his ignorance stop there: “To accept e-cigarettes as part of a harm reduction approach, before the science has shown whether they are safe and effective, is, I’m sorry, plain old bullshit.”

He confuses harm reduction with safe, and highlights a shocking lack of knowledge regarding the research conducted to date for someone who travels the world giving lectures on the subject.

This latest pronouncement comes prior to a talk to the Population Health Congress in Auckland, New Zealand. But then he would say these things considering his income relies on promoting his Smoke Free Kids charity and acting as a consultant to the Kiwi Parliament; fear sells.

“The electronic cigarette maintains users’ addiction to nicotine, but to quit smoking must involve breaking that addiction. We must be judicious in how we allow it to be used.”

Followers of vape-related news and research will recall that Professor West has demonstrated the efficacy of electronic cigarettes as a quit tool and this finding is supported by numerous other studies and anecdotal evidence.

“The Marlboro Man is the most recognisable logo in the world,” said the delusional expert, oblivious to the likes of Coke, Nike or the omnipresent Ford. For Wigand it is about selling half-truths or stating falsehoods with authority – it is clear how he managed to climb the tobacco corporate ladder.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker