It’s with a great sense of irony that we report the death of an anti-tobacco operative who made a very good living suing tobacco companies. Judith D. Wilkenfeld died last weekend of cancer. She was 64 years old and did not smoke.
Judith Wilkenfeld: Anti-tobacco operative, dead at 64
Wilkenfeld began her career of making smokers miserable by suing Brown & Williamson in 1985 while working for the Federal Trade Commission. She beefed up her anti-tobacco bona fides five years later by taking on R.J. Reynolds Co. over the cigarette manufacturer’s advertising that disputed the health risks of smoking. Since the so-called health risks have never been proven scientifically and are merely fictions derived from flawed epidemiologic studies, Wilkenfeld’s action against RJR is an early example of anti-tobacco stifling free speech.
Wilkenfeld’s fealty to the pharmaceutical industry was rewarded during the Clinton Administration when she was invited into the Food and Drug Administration as a special advisor for tobacco policy while the agency illegally crafted rules and regulations governing tobacco. After the Supreme Court ruled the FDA had exceeded its authority by regulating tobacco Wilenfeld raked in the big bucks by becoming the vice president of international programs at the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. In that capacity she led negotiations for the global framework treaty on tobacco. When the United States refused to ratify the treaty she bad-mouthed her country and the government that had facilitated her entry in the anti-tobacco rackets.
Wilkenfeld was a dedicated runner and enjoyed working out. We hope she is missed by her family and friends since her impact on the world in her professional capacity was completely negative. After decades of railing against "Big Tobacco" and concocting policy measures that denigrate, persecute and demonize smokers we can’t shed a tear over her premature death. We can, and do, have pity on her for enthusiastically rolling in the dirt and mire that is anti-tobacco.