Apr 052013
 

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — MAR 27, 2013 –

GUEST COMMENTARY
from Edwin Garcia, Kaiser Permanente

Dr. Victor DeNoble, a former tobacco research scientist who became a whistleblower against his company – and the entire industry – spoke to hundreds of students in a series of school assemblies in West Sacramento earlier this month, explaining the dangers of smoking.

Among the attention-grabbing props he displayed were the frozen brains of a monkey, and also of a human, that he held in his glove-covered hand as he worked the multipurpose rooms showing what he learned long ago about the effect that the drug nicotine has on the brain.

Dr. Victor DeNoble uses a frozen human brain to make a point about nicotine addiction and smoking, in a presentation to 4th and 5th grade students at Bridgeway Island Elementary School (photo courtesy of Edwin Garcia, Kaiser Permanente)

Dr. Victor DeNoble uses a frozen human brain to make a point about nicotine addiction and smoking, in a presentation to 4th and 5th grade students at Bridgeway Island Elementary School (photo courtesy of Edwin Garcia, Kaiser Permanente)

DeNoble’s presentations were part of an anti-smoking effort called “Don’t Buy The Lie,” which is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente in partnership with the West Sacramento-based Health Education Council.

He spoke at Bridgeway Island, Riverbank and Stonegate elementary schools.

In addition to presenting dozens of school assemblies each March in the Sacramento region,

“Don’t Buy The Lie” includes a poster contest for students in the 7th-through-12th grades who submit drawings and messages with an anti-smoking theme. The winners receive prizes and their artwork is displayed on billboards.

DeNoble tells a riveting story about how he was secretly hired by Philip Morris to create a safer cigarette that wouldn’t lead to heart disease. But much of his time was spent researching something the company didn’t authorize and later fired him for: he used laboratory rats to investigate the addictive nature of nicotine.

More than 10 years after he was fired, the federal government asked DeNoble to testify in Congress against the tobacco industry. His testimony and other evidence prompted major fines against the industry and significant reforms, including the banning of cigarette advertisements from billboards.

After the Bridgeway Island Elementary School assembly, Principal Grace Chin said the presentation will have a lasting effect on students because Dr. DeNoble is a scientist and his work lends credibility to his message.

Copyright News-LEdger 2013

Steve Marschke

Steve Marschke