10 Whistleblowers and the Horrors They Exposed

Cancer Stick Cover-up
Jeffrey Wigand told Big Tobacco’s secrets to journalists and turned the industry upside down. © Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images

It wasn't until 1964 that the U.S. Surgeon General finally condemned cigarette smoking as a clear-cut health risk. But all along, the tobacco companies were flagrantly manipulating lawmakers and consumers alike by lying about how addictive and destructive their products were.

Jeffrey Wigand worked for the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, and he saw first-hand how the organization misled people about nicotine's addictive nature, as well as the carcinogenic ingredients in smoking products. After disagreeing with other executives about these issues, he was fired from his job, and he eventually told Big Tobacco's secrets to the news show "60 Minutes."

The facts he unveiled were a hammer blow to the industry, and used by the attorneys general of several states to bring a suit against the three biggest tobacco companies. Eventually, they were forced to settle for hundreds of billions of dollars.

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