An Unfair Loss…

November 2019

Maria Santos

Jeffrey Wigand was in fact the ultimate insider providing the nation with precious knowledge that came to change their point of view on tobacco and on the Brown and Williamson Corporation. He disclosed a horrible truth in relation to the manufacturing of tobacco products, revelling that his former employer was manipulating nicotine, they had created a special tobacco plant called Y-1, it was two times as high in nicotine compared to the regular plants. His statement brought to light one of the biggest corporate malfeasance cases in history, and also sparked the beginning of FDA Vs Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation. In 1996 the FDA claimed to have jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products since nicotine was a drug and the cigarette was a device to deliver it into the body, this allegation made the big tobacco players nervous so they filled a suit against the FDA on the grounds of inter alia.

The FDA’s main focus was to regulate the way tobacco companies were marketing their products, especially to the youth, through marketing, labelling and accessibility to the public. The ruling was controversial since Brown and Williamson Corporation won based on arguing that they never advertised that it had therapeutical benefits therefore the FDA had no jurisdiction. One of the reasons for their win is definitely the full force of the tobacco giants supporting them and doing whatever they could to not allow the FDA to regulate their product. The issue comes down to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, congress deliberately wanted the FDA to have no power over tobacco products since if the FDA were to have jurisdiction this act would oblige them to ban all tobacco products from the market, because they are detrimental for public health, so therefore they could not regulate just part of it. This is a clear gap in law, the FDA should have been able to regulate the marketing, to protect the youth from falling into addiction.

The fact that FDA lost over this act comes to show how the law needs to adapt for cases like this, it is a matter of public health, and tobacco products killed thousands of people, by preventing the youth to have access to it, or even by preventing the marketing they would be saving future generations. Although it was never proven Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation allegedly committed major infractions and even fraud, they knew nicotine was addictive so they decided to create a plant that was two times more addictive just to create more profit, and they were never charged for any crimes. It is immoral that the FDA lost this suit, and it only comes to show how the tobacco giants hold immense power, and how money rules people’s minds, making them blind. The act should have been amended to allow the FDA to have jurisdiction over tobacco without having to ban it from the market altogether, and it is suspicious that the congress didn’t think to amend this act.