Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT)
February 5, 2006
grandson -- yes, of that tobacco empire -- against smoking
Family deaths motivate him to
take on lobbyists, industry
OGDEN -- Patrick Reynolds
envisions a world free of tobacco smoke -- a world where parents won't die
prematurely from that smoke, where teenagers will no longer be targeted by
the tobacco advertising industry, a world where people live a happy,
healthy, smoke-free life.
Those are funny thoughts, coming from a man whose
grandfather founded one of the largest tobacco companies in the
To Reynolds, though, there's nothing funny about
tobacco. His father, R.J. Reynolds Jr., inherited the business and,
ironically, died from a smoking-related illness, as did Patrick's
older brother, R.J. Reynolds III.
" Every time I saw my
father he was sicker and sicker," Reynolds said. "What made him
so wealthy ended up killing him, and that has a lot to do with me turning
back on the tobacco industry."
Reynolds was the keynote
speaker during the 14th annual Heart and Vascular Outreach Symposium at
McKay-Dee Hospital. He said that one of the biggest problems in passing
anti-tobacco laws stems from political campaign donations.
passed by Congress, the FDA would be able to restrict tobacco advertising,
impede sales to minors, reduce or eliminate harmful chemicals in tobacco
like ammonia, ban candy and fruit flavorings in cigarettes and require
full disclosure of ingredients," Reynolds said. "But these tobacco
industries are donating a lot of money to candidates and that really
concerns me. No industry gives away that much money without wanting
something in return."
Concerned about the consequences of smoking,
Reynolds made the decision to speak out against the industry his
family helped build. He became the first tobacco industry figure to do
so in 1986. The following year, he testified before Congress, helping to
bring about the present ban of smoking on all U.S. domestic airline
" I was thrust into the spotlight and I decided to commit
myself to having smoking banned in public places," he said. "Second-hand
smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death with 53,000 people
dying every year. By 2010, if we don't get a hold on this, 10 million
people on this planet will be dead from smoking-related
Reynolds said many states are catching on,
however. As of April 2005, seven states have passed 100 percent statewide
smoking bans. The law provides for smoke-free restaurants, bars,
nightclubs and all other workplaces.
Reynolds is also in
favor of a tobacco tax increase, which he said would lower the number of
youth smokers, a major group that he wants to target.
" One of the
most secret forms of advertising geared toward youth is the fact that
cigarettes sit right on top of the counter right next to the candy bars,"
he said. "Do you know that stores are paid to have countertop
Reynolds told health care workers not to give
up on their smoking patients. "I failed 11 times before I finally got it
right, so please don't give up on them when they say they've tried and
they can't quit," he said. "I know I'm doing the right thing and I know
that my vision of a smoke-free society is coming."