Charles Evans discovered the topic of his documentary while flipping the channels over a decade ago. There on C-SPAN he first saw Victor DeNoble as he was testifying before a Congressional subcommittee about what he learned as an insider in the tobacco industry. Their collaboratio resulted in ADDICTION, INC. which traces DeNoble’s unlikely route from dyslexic kid to activist by way of a cushy job at Philip Morris, where he was the first to establish the addictive effects of nicotine. When I spoke to them on January 19, 2012, I started with the double-edged sword money represents for scientists. We moved on to what drove and still drives deNoble, as well as what the implications of having made the tobacco industry responsible for their actions has for other industries.
ADDICTION, INC. is Evans’ feature film directorial debut that considers the case of deNoble, an accidental scientist who found himself at the center of big tobacco’s fall from grace. The documentary follows DeNoble’s career from in-house researcher at Philip Morris, who along with Paul Mele was tasked with finding a way to make cigarettes less dangerous and more addictive, to an iconoclastic anti-smoking crusader, who testified before Representative Henry Waxman’s subcommittee hearings on the tobacco industry’s practices. While the specifics of the story might seem to be old news, Evans’ film, which unfolds like a thriller of the first order, it actually speaks to a larger issue, one that includes the role of government in maintaining the public good, and the peculiar relationship between science, politics, and big business in the modern world.