|Grandson of tobacco giant speaks
against smoking at Madison Central
By Kristin Gunderson
After watching his dad die from the product that made
his family fortune, Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco
company founder R.J. Reynolds, became an anti-smoking
Reynolds relayed his anti-smoking message to
about 1,300 students at Madison Central and 200 students at
Madison Southern high schools Wednesday.
cigarettes killed his father, and kills two out of every five
smokers. He said 50 million smokers reside in the United
Talking to youth about smoking is important, he
said, because 60 percent of the nation’s millions of smokers
started smoking before age 14. He said nine out of 10 smokers
were addicted by age 19.
“If you can get to them now, it’s
really important,” he said. “Once you’re hooked, you’re
Reynolds said 11- and 12-year-olds who smoke two
to three cigarettes a day can be addicted within two weeks. He
told the students to get help if they are already addicted to
“The first step to overcoming an
addiction is admitting you’re an addict,” he said. “People who
win in life — who succeed — get help.”
Reynolds urged the
students to be responsible and make good choices.
to empower you to stay smoke free,” he said.
advertising is a major problem — it keeps cigarettes in teens’
hands and smoke in their lungs.
“Advertising does have an
affect on you,” he said. “Advertising sends the message
smoking is associated with healthy people, and smoking is
acceptable. Both of those are lies.”
He tried to counter
the messages by showing advertisements portraying the infamous
Joe Camel as Joe Chemo, dying in a hospital bed.
encouraged students to write legislators in hopes of thwarting
smoking, second-hand smoke and the damaging effects of
smoking. He said a higher tax on cigarettes in Kentucky is
necessary, even though the state is “tobacco country.” He said
tobacco farmers need to find another sustaining crop.
them grow corn or wheat or something that will nourish the
people, not poison and kill them,” he said.
he turned his back on the family business in 1986, when he
spoke out against tobacco for the first time at a
congressional hearing. In 1989, he founded the non-profit
organization Foundation for a Smokefree America. He has now
given motivational speeches to more than 100,000 students.
Reynolds said getting in touch with his feelings about his
father’s death and realizing he could make a difference
spurred him to be an anti-smoking advocate. He said some
family members have disapproved of his advocacy, while others
have been more supportive.
He said he has no regrets.
“I know I did the right thing, and I don’t regret it,”
Reynolds said. “I got to make a difference. I’m one of many
people who has made a difference.”
Kristin Gunderson can
be reached at email@example.com.
|Story created Thursday, September 11,
2003 at 11:55 AM.|