News and Events

Tobacco Industry Whistle-Blower, Dr. Victor DeNoble, Visits Clay County
September 16, 2014

Just recently The Tobacco Free Partnership of Clay County with the help of the Clay County SWAT youth hosted presentations by tobacco prevention expert Dr. Victor DeNoble at both Orange Park High School and Oakleaf High School where he educated close to 750 students on the consequences of nicotine addiction.

Victor J. DeNoble, Ph.D. has been giving presentations to youth and adults for nearly two decades.  His compelling story starts when he was recruited to develop a safer cigarette for Philip Morris in the 1980’s. In his secret research laboratory, he studied nicotine’s effects on the central nervous system and was successful in developing a nicotine substitute that did not elevate the heart rate; however, attempts to publish his work were suppressed by Philip Morris. Dr. DeNoble was eventually fired, his laboratory was shuttered, and his research was seized.

In 1994, after a decade of being silenced by a secrecy agreement, he became the first whistle blower to testify before Congress and was a key witness in the federal government’s investigation into the tobacco industry’s research practices.
Students and staff at both high schools were amazed by the presentation, which included some of the evidence that proved nicotine changes the human brain. Dalphine Tillman, SWAT Sponsor at Oakleaf High School called DeNoble’s presentation “captivating” and “entertaining” as well. She also commented, “Students here at Oakleaf High School were very impressed and are asking if he can return.”

Victor DeNoble Clay County High School students that attended the presentation learned about the tactics that the tobacco industry used to lie to their customers and how it continues to develop and sale tobacco products aimed at attracting kids. Dr. DeNoble explained that their brains will not know if the nicotine comes from a traditional cigarette, spit tobacco, or an electronic cigarette. By using candy flavors and advertisements at child eye level, these products are being marketed to kids as future customers.

From the presentations given, there was so much positive feedback from the youth in the schools that students were asking when he would return!

"It was an honor to meet the man that set in motion so many of our laws related to tobacco education," said Christine Jump, the Orange Park HIgh School SWAT Advisor. "Without him and people like him, who stood up to Big Tobacco, we may not have been where we are today in educating young people about the true dangers of tobacco. His message is one that needs to be heard by every young person. I am very thankful to the Tobacco Free Partnership for bringing Dr. DeNoble to Orange Park High School."

For more information of the work of the Tobacco Free Partnership in Clay County, you can contact the Partnership at info@tfp-clay.org.