After hefty experimentation with rats in corporate-owned labs, Victor found what he was looking for: a chemical additive called 2 prime methyl-nicotine. He found it to be equally addictive without the effects on the heart and the brain.
But the finding was rejected by his superiors, out of fear that changing the formula would force an FDA inquiry - thereby subjecting their product to the truth of how dangerous it could be. Regardless, DeNoble now had scientific proof that nicotine was addictive. In 1983, DeNoble wrote a scientific paper discussing his findings, but after its submission, Philip Morris’s lawyers forced Victor to withdraw the paper because it proved that cigarettes were a dangerous and addictive drug.
Less than six months later, after years of quality research on their behalf, PMI unceremoniously fired Victor - legally cornering him into never discussing his work for them ever again.
Fast forward a decade, and Washington was asking serious questions about cigarettes. When the FDA approached Victor to be a briefing expert, he declined, citing the nondisclosure agreement he signed ten years earlier. Unsatisfied, members of congress strong-armed PMI to release DeNoble from the NDA.
After several attempts, PMI executives finally freed Victor, and he was able to testify that Big Tobacco knew that nicotine was addictive and only tried to make it more addictive in order to raise profits.
While other whistleblowers like Jeffrey Wigand and Merrel Williams Jr. are perhaps more well-known as the pioneers of the “War on Tobacco”, most credit Victor DeNoble with being the first.
In the decades since, Victor has continued to fight the good fight against Big Tobacco’s lies, but like many others, he bemoans the fact that Big Tobacco is bigger than they ever were, and that PMI’s stock price has climbed 51% since the Master Settlement Agreement. For Victor, there is still lots of work to be done.
Much of Victor’s story can be seen in the highly acclaimed documentary, “Addiction Inc.”.