"Addiction Incorporated" - One of humanity's most important whistleblowers?
"The truth shall set you free."
Is the story that helped destroy the defenses of humankind's most lethal predator one of the most important ever to be told?
Though I'll offer that thought, I won't argue the point. Because what really matters most, about Addiction Incorporated, is that Victor DeNoble dared and was able to tell the truth about his tobacco research, despite the potential consequences to such a high-profile whistleblower.
He did so against the highest odds, stacked with high-powered lawyers who were armed with so much money that they could outspend and outwait any opponent in court.
DeNoble was the scientist whose research helped to debase fifty years of the Big Tobacco fraud that claimed no one actually knew nicotine was addictive.
His work for Philip Morris in the 1980s studied the nicotine-responsive behavior of rats, with evidence for the reinforcing nature of tobacco components.
It was long after DeNoble's work had been bound into the silence of non-disclosure agreement that FDA Chairman David Kessler revisited it under a 1994 petition for his agency to regulate low tar and nicotine cigarettes.
Tobacco products are as old as the American colonies. But Kessler's petition had to account for then-recent evidence that tobacco vendors adjusted nicotine levels in their products. It was that fact which betrayed an intent by manufacturers to control a component known only for its role in tobacco's addictiveness.
Therefore, if manufacturers treated tobacco as a drug, perhaps the FDA should rethink its own treatment of tobacco in the same terms that producers of cigarettes used..
From this basis, regulators considered a flood of evidence and testimony that started a process which is still unfolding, even today.
But it produced the landmark law that finally regulated tobacco under FDA authority which was codified by President Obama signature, in 2009.
It was only possible as the result of efforts by brave whistleblowers like Victor DeNoble.
Addiction Incorporated brings to the documentary screen, the story of DeNoble's willingness to help break the deception that had, for so long, protected industry profits from liability for damages under tort claims.
I'm not sure when I will be seeing the film, but as soon as is possible, certanily..
DeNoble's story is an integral facet of the foundation upon which our own Tobaccoup Road was staged. Tobaccoup Road begins a tale of how the political fallout of what started in 1994 changed the course of American history. Hint: it's been awhile, but more will be coming soon.