Reynolds heir battles
smokingBy ANNIE ROBINSON
SOUTH BEND -- The grandson of tobacco company founder R.J.
Reynolds is now one of the country's most passionate advocates for a
Patrick Reynolds presented a talk called "Tobacco Wars: The
Battle for a Smoke Free Society" on Wednesday night in the
University of Notre Dame's McKenna Hall auditorium.
The talk was sponsored by Notre Dame's Office of Alcohol and Drug
Education, IRISHealth, and the Healthy Communities Initiative of St.
A former smoker himself, Reynolds is the founder of the nonprofit
Foundation for a Smoke Free America and gives anti-smoking speeches
across the country.
"I want to help keep our youth from becoming addicted to
tobacco," he told the audience.
Reynolds recalled being a 9-year-old boy and watching his own
father suffer from emphysema.
"There he was, dying from the product that made his family rich,"
he said. "That had a lot to do with why I decided to turn my back on
the tobacco industry."
Reynolds has lost his father, eldest brother and other relatives
to smoking-related diseases.
Since 1986, Reynolds has testified before Congress and has
lobbied governments to raise cigarette taxes, toughen anti-smoking
laws and reduce national tobacco advertising.
"The more I learned about the tobacco industry, the more
disturbed I became," he said.
Reynolds said he is most concerned with a what he sees as a
dangerous trend. He said many states have reduced funding for
tobacco prevention programs to sums below the recommendations of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reynolds stressed the need for those numbers to change
dramatically, particularly in Indiana. He said the direct
correlation between increased funding for prevention programs and
decreased smoking rates is reason enough.
"We are going to have a smoke- free society," Reynolds told the
audience. "Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week. But I believe
it's coming in your lifetime."
"He gave a compassionate and compelling speech. He's very
encouraging," said Dr. Alan Snell, medical director of clinical
informatics for St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and chairman of
the Healthy Communities Initiative executive committee.
Snell is a prominent anti-smoking advocate on the local level. He
pushed the medical center and Memorial Hospital to ban smoking on
their campuses. Both hospitals agreed this past year to become
completely smoke free on Jan. 1, 2004.
Staff writer Annie Robinson: