Jeffrey Wigand Chat
La trascrizione della chat con Jeffrey Wigand di martedě 7 dicembre 1999

Drew: How do you think you were portrayed in the movie. How much exaggeration was there for Hollywood's purposes?

Jeffrey Wigand: I think it captures the time and moment quite well. I have no problem with it. Russell Crow captures the emtions and philosophical aspect of that time of my life. It compresses time and changes things. But over all I am ecstatic.

Tom Wakefield: Do you think there's any link between the efforts of the tobacco industry to discredit or undermine the validity of the Insider and the film's so-so financial earnings?

Jeffrey Wigand: I couldn't speculate on that, but the tobacco industry isn't very happy because it portrays them the way they are.

Sera Kirk, Vancouver: What would you suggest ordinary citizens can do to effectively support tobacco control? I've written to political leaders, lots of letters to editors, put in my 2 cents on internet bulletin boards, refuse to work in offices that do not obey smoking restrictions, and boycott businesses and events that allow or promote smoking or are affiliated with the tobacco industry. Anything else I could be doing?

Jeffrey Wigand: Two aspects, actually three. prevention, cessation therapry and getting those who don't want to smoke from smoking second-hand smoke. With kids, get into education, raising taxes high enough. Keeping kids in school and helping them to recognize peer pressure and what to do about it. There are clinics that help with cessation, both pharmaceutical and behaviour modification. On second-hand smoke, just keep pressure on and change packaging. Healthy investing, drop tobacco stocks from your investments.

Douglas Howitt Toronto: Why does the tobacco industry continue to deny the use of their product can result in cancer, and with what facts do they support their argument?

Jeffrey Wigand: Profits. No reasonable scientist can ignore the fact nicotine is addictive and smoking leads to addiction and then to its health effects, whether cancer of the mouth or lungs. the industry has known this for 50 years, why would anybody expect them to come forward now.

Bob Pendeski: What exactly will you be doing for Health Canada?

Jeffrey Wigand: All I have so far is the visit with Allan Rock at which we discussed a variety of tobacco matters. I'll be back in Ottawa in January to work out the details and start our collaboration.

A clear picture from a concerned farmer : Since the industry and government are so preoccupied with the addiction of tobacco and the drug addiction aspect of the product should the government move to eliminate, set standards, and even control specific elements in the production cycle. We as farmers are constantly trying to improve our product but are often baffled by hidden agendas and unclear requirements by the buying fraternity. Perhaps if realistic goals were set by the gov't, the industry and the the anti's then true gains could be made by all. Let's remember that realistically the government is not willing to forego huge taxes, smokers who legally light up will not quit, farmers will not give up years of a farming career and investment, and the antis will never wipe out the entire process. I would applaud the control of drugs in any product even tobacco. A clear picture from a concerned farmer

Jeffrey Wigand: I don't believe in eradicating smoking for adults. But 85 per cent of adult smokers started as teens. Efforts need to be focussed on teens. Allow those adults who choose to smoke to make their choice after seeing all the information. The industry needs to give facts to those adults who chose to smoke. It needs to not continue to generate 300 new addicts a year in Canada, under the age of 18.

Dr. Terry Polevoy !# NO PATSY - National Organization of People Attacking Tobacco Sales to Youthy: Iif the tobacco industry openly courted doctors and hospitals for years in Canada, what does that say for the health care exectutives and hospital boards that allowed that to thrive in Canada? What will it take to clean up this partnership?

Jeffrey Wigand: Simple comment. Money is more addictive than nicotine.

Bev: I am a 43 year old ex smoker who smoked for 28 years and not proud of it. Both my parent are passed on which smoking was the main contributor. I never realized how bad it was until I saw my mothers' death last year and she was a non-smoker for her last three years. My question to you is how can I convince my 17 year old to stop without being a hypocrite?

Jeffrey Wigand: You're not a hypocrite, she realized it was an addiction and she over camed it. It showed a lot of courage. Sit down and talk honestly with your child. Talk about your addition, how you feel now and how you felt then. Children love to emulate, that's what the industry knows. Just let them emulate you not smoking.

Neil: I am very pleased with your appointment by the Canadian government. Anything that can be done to discourage smoking is worthwhile. I am particularly concerned with smoking in bingo halls. These places seem to be a last holdout for smoking. They are unhealthy, unpleasant and dangerous places. I believe that some Canadian cities (Vancouver and Kitchener, I think) have banned smoking at bingo halls. Is there any way that you or our federal government could pursue this? Is there anyone I should contact locally in London, Ontario about my concerns? Thank you very much for your attention. Very best wishes to you in your new job.

Jeffrey Wigand: Pushing for a smoke-free environment can be difficult on private property. The first thing is just don't go there. Form a non-smoking bingo group.

Fred Rumo: What universities granted your degrees in endocrinology and biochemistry and what was your exact position, title and responsibilities at Brown & Williamson?

Jeffrey Wigand: My degrees are in chemisty and masters in biochemistry and Phd from University of Buffalo in biomedical science, also a masters in education from University of Lousiville. At Brown and Williamson I was chief scientist and vice-president of research and development.

Frank Dwyer, President Canadian Council for Non-Smoking: "I heard you speak in Toronto, at Hart House, and you made a point that our (Canadian) Governments do not spend enough on anti-smoking programs. Do you feel that now that you are an employee of the Federal Government, that you have been compromised and made somewhat unable to criticize their activities? Further, as you may know, Canadian Governments earn some 5 Billion dollars in annual tobacco tax, and spend less than one percent on anti-smnoking programs. I feel this sad fact is a big part of why smoking continues to grow in Canada. NOt to be too cynical, could you please bring up this scandalous matter with your new boss. "

Jeffrey Wigand: The government collects taxes on cigarettes, but are they using it to create cessation, or are they using if for prevention or doing counter advertising. That money raised from taxes can be used for other matters. I will try to encourage use of that money for rational smoking programs.

Tom Battaglia, Burlington: A picture of a diseased lung helped me stop smoking 22 years ago. Do you know where I can get such a pix by e-mail. I would like to show my daughter, 18 who smokes.

Jeffrey Wigand: There is more of that gory stuff around than you would like to look at. Any medical textbook would have it. I haven't looked for a website. Any medical school could help with pictures of live organs from autopsies. I've done that in the past.

Peter Lambert, London, Ontario: The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture nicotine replacement products are also big business -- very big business. Reliable studies have shown these products to be largely ineffective without behavioural therapy and yet they sell by the millions. Any comments?

Jeffrey Wigand: That's fairly accurate. We are just starting to get into cessation programs. It is clear that people who use pharmaceutical products all need behavioural help. When you take nicotine from a patch, it weens you off. Another drug blocks nicotine and makes you feel ill. All those products need to be linked to behaviour modification programs.

Frank Jablonski, Peterborough: My question is this: What particular knowledge do you have about the addictive quality of tobbacco and are the maufacturers doing anything to enhance this effect?

Jeffrey Wigand: They are enhancing the level of nicotine. The industry wants you to believe it's just something they cut from the ground and stick in paper, but it is carefully engineered, chemically modified product, coupled with cowboys and lots of advertising.

Tom Battaglia, Burlington, Ont.: When did any cigarette company discover that the ingredients in a cigarette was a cause of cancer.

Jeffrey Wigand: Back as early and the 1950s, based on research they were doing themselves. I came to the tobacco industry in 1989 and it was no secret to me. They have categorically stated nicotine is not addictive, that it's just there for the taste and that smoking is not linked to any disease. Given the light of all the science, it's a ludicrous opinion, but it is underpinned by legal concerns. They don't want to be sued for causing deaths. They have been very successful with it until recently. They just wore the plaintiffs down and co-opted doctors.

Richard Korpela: The cost of tobacco is a big factor in the rate of teen smoking. They do not normally have much disposable income and would be affected higher costs if only the government had the guts to levy even more taxes on tobacco and use that money to increase their anti smoking efforts and fight the smuggling. Weening a country off tobacco addiction must start with hard government legislation that leaves no doubt about it's intention.

Jeffrey Wigand: I would support higher taxes, 100 per cent. The researuch shows the higher the price level the more detraction they have,. particularly those with little money, not just kids. The companies hook not just teens, but the indigent. Fewer and fewer white collar workers smoke, but the companies rely on keeping the poor smoking.

Stephen W. Young, University of Waterloo: I'm a non-smoker, but as a libertarian, I feel that the anti-smoking laws have gone too far. Myself, along with many other smokers' rights groups, feel that new laws in cities such as Toronto (where smoking is banned outright in public places) are unnecessarily harsh, and if people are bothered by the smoke in a restaurant, they have the choice to simply not go to that restaurant.

Jeffrey Wigand: I would submit that people at the establishment who work there also have the right to be smoke free.

Stan Shatenstein, Editor, Tobacco News Online: Along with offering my sincere appreciation for your frontline role in the "tobacco wars", I would like to ask how you'll be able to assist Health Minister Rock, beyond the interpretation of documents? Mr. Rock appears very sincere in his intentions, but does not seem to have the support of Prime Minister Chrétien or Finance Minister Martin. You may not be a politician, but you are now in the middle of a political battle of wills here, so what actions do you think will lead to effective measures being enacted?

Jeffrey Wigand: I'm not a politicians and I won't take part in political action. I'm providing techincal information on how to keep kids from smoking. My whole philosophy is one of prevention from smoking and then therapeutic cessation. I don't see any political overtones to what I am doing. I will be interpreting documents, giving advice on packaging. To my eyes, I don't see it as political.

Stan Shatenstein: Based on your technical expertise and on what you learned of industry attitudes at B&W, are you cynical solely about the industry's quest for a "safer cigarette" or do you also feel that harm reduction is, in and of itself, an inherently bad concept?

Jeffrey Wigand: Reduced risk in a product for adults is a reasonable approach. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette. But there are degrees of safety, so for the adult who smokes you should provide the safest cigarette possible, but it should not be extended to children.

Tom Battaglia, Burlington: O.K. we raise taxes on a pack of cigarettes - then the smugglers take over as they did 3 or 4 years ago. To me the only thing left is to ban cigarettes altogether. What do you think?

Jeffrey Wigand: I don't believe in it, but I'm not going to speak for the government policy makers. I think you should control smoking, and disclose risk and all the information on ingredients. I think they should change the methods used to rate cigarettes. I don't see outright bans. If you start the kids from smoking eventually you will get fewer smokers.

Moderator: Thanks very much to Dr. Wigand for answering questions today and thank you for participating in our chat. We will have another newsmaker chat next week. Watch the CANOE homepage for details.