Cigarette researcher monkeys around at schools

Dr. Victor DeNoble speaks at the ABC School. Photo available for purchase

Dr. Victor DeNoble speaks at the ABC School.

David Adlerstein
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 12:45 PM.

A prominent former researcher for the Phillip Morris cigarette company used a powerful delivery, a visual presentation and a freeze-dried money brain to drive home the message to schoolkids last week that all forms of nicotine addiction are bad news.

Victor DeNoble, PhD., who once worked in a secret research lab for the tobacco giant to develop a cigarette with reduced heart risk, spoke Feb. 13 to ABC School middle schoolers in the morning, to Franklin County fifth through 12th graders in the afternoon, and to the Franklin County School Board in the evening.

In it he shared his background as a researcher, in which he said his findings were suppressed by Philip Morris, he was eventually fired and his laboratory and data were seized. In 1994, after a decade of being silenced by a secrecy agreement, DeNoble became the first whistle-blower to testify before Congress about his research conducted within the tobacco industry, which showed nicotine has addictive properties similar to other drugs of addiction.

In talking with the students, he told of how one of his monkeys had developed a craving for nicotine, and then passed around a preserved monkey brain for the young people to examine.

Before returning to his home in San Diego, Calif., DeNoble paid a visit to the school board.

“Your brain doesn’t care where nicotine comes from,” he said. “What kids don’t understand is that everyone in this room is wired for drug addiction.

“Kids don’t know that, they think they’re immune,” said DeNoble, accompanied by Gina Moore, Tobacco Prevention Specialist with the county health department. “We talked about electronic cigarettes. They’re really going to be trouble for us. People are using them to maintain their addiction where they can’t use tobacco products.

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