Jeffrey Wigand became one of the most famous whistleblowers of all time after he revealed the tobacco industry's darkest secrets starting in 1994. He is the former Brown & Williamson Vice President and scientist portrayed by Russell Crowe in the 1999 movie "The Insider".
Speaking this week in New Zealand, among other topics Dr. Wigand discussed nicotine manipulation and the little-known discovery that cigarette companies add an ingredient common in floor and toilet bowl cleaners, ammonia, to cigarettes to get more nicotine to the smoker's brain faster after lighting up.
Industry documents reveal that cigarette companies add ammonia to cigarettes to freebase nicotine, which gives the smoker a faster and more intense nicotine "kick." In the mid-1970s, R.J. Reynolds (RJR) the makers of Camel and Winston brands, noticed that sales of their competitor's brands, and especially Philip Morris's flagship brand Marlboro, were suddenly skyrocketing compared to their brands. Determined to find out why RJR's brands were doing so poorly compared to the others, RJR chemically "deconstructed" Marlboro cigarettes to find out just how they were different.