Office of Communications
470C Wohlers Hall
College of Business
October 31, 2002 -- News Brief
Wigand Address Covers Personal History and Ethics
Jeffrey Wigand recounted his personal experiences in revealing tobacco industry secrets and the evolution of his personal ethical code in the October 30th Myron Wang lecture. A former Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation Vice President for Research and Development, Wigand admitted in the lecture that he "came to ethics late" and that he had been previously oriented to the "immediacy of personal gain." A highly paid executive at Brown & Williamson -- he made $500,000 in compensation -- he admited that his "silence was part of the problem."
He drew a parallel between his ethical challenges during and after his employment in the tobacco industry with the challenges faced by those employed at Arthur Andersen, Firestone, and A. H. Robins Co., maker of the Dalkon Shield contraceptive. He also noted his disappointment in the use by 45 states of their tobacco settlement monies. Many states are using the settlement funds for tax rebates or road improvement, rather than "judicious and ethical use" for tobacco-related programs that benefit children.
In defiance of an industry post-employment ban on revealing industry secrets, Wigand began cooperating with government agencies following his dismissal in 1993 from Brown & Williamson. He and his family were the target of death threats and a smear campaign. Wigand now believes he has changed his moral compass: he founded SMOKE-FREE KIDS, a non-profit organization that sponsors trips to schools to demonstrate how the tobacco industry targets kids and youth to generate new tobacco addicts.
The Disney Studios movie about his experiences that was released in November 1999 called him The Insider.