Jeffrey Wigand, former tobacco industry executive turned reformer whose story was chronicled in the Academy Award nominated film "The Insider," will present a free public lecture on Monday, April 10 at 8 p.m. to launch a new UC Santa Barbara undergraduate course on corporate and business ethics.
The title of the inaugural lecture is "What Do You Do with What You Know? The Power of One."
The interdisciplinary course was funded by a generous $265,000 endowment gift from Santa Barbara resident Henry Schimberg, retired president and chief executive officer of Coca Cola Enterprises, Inc.
The event, which is sponsored by UCSB's Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life and the Department of Religious Studies, will be held at Victoria Hall in Santa Barbara.
Wigand, former head of research at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation (B&W), is the highest-ranking tobacco executive to come forward with public allegations about the industry's practices.
After being terminated from his job, he reluctantly signed a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from disclosing what he learned while working at B&W.
Nevertheless, he came forward, publicly disclosing how tobacco companies get and keep smokers hooked.
It was common knowledge within the industry that cigarettes and related products, with more than 400 chemical additives, were highly toxic and addictive.
Wigand's revelations in an interview with "60 Minutes" were initially shelved by CBS, which feared a lawsuit from his former employer.
For 10 years, Wigand, his children, and his lawyer were the victims of repeated death threats, wiretaps, break-ins, and surveillance as he negotiated a labyrinth of lawsuits and became a key witness in groundbreaking tobacco litigation.
His public disclosures precipitated a record $206-billion settlement between the attorneys general of 46 states and the tobacco industry.
Wigand worked for 25 years in the health care industry before joining B&W.
Today, he is a biochemist, teacher, and humanitarian.
The new UCSB course, "Ethics, Enterprise, and Leadership," is taught by Laurie Harris, a visiting professor who also teaches "Global Business Ethics" in the Department of Global and International Studies and "Ethical Decision Making for the Environment" in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.