Pensacola News Journal

Published - March, 26, 2007 

Youth encouraged to 'breathe life'

To help clear the air and encourage this region's youth and young adults to "Breathe Life, Not Tobacco," Health First Network is taking action in the Pensacola area this week.

This network of more than 550 physicians is bringing Patrick Reynolds - grandson of tobacco giant RJ Reynolds and a national advocate for a smoke-free society - to the area to encourage teens and young adults to choose hope over tobacco.

During his three-day tour, starting Tuesday, Reynolds will address 10,000 students from the two-county area and 5,000 sailors Tuesday at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. He will share the personal story of his father's death from smoking, discuss tobacco addiction, shed light on the inherent risks of using tobacco, and offer a message of hope.

"In the face of terrorism, global warming, AIDS, and other issues, many of today's youth worry about the future," Reynolds said in a news release. "Our hope is to boost their faith in the years ahead and motivate them to stay tobacco and drug free."

Preventing kids from ever picking up a cigarette in the first place is critical because, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, nearly 90 percent of adults who have ever been regular smokers began smoking by the time they were 19.

"We are committed to helping build a healthy community," said Robin Herr, CEO of Health First Network. "We have to start with children and we must communicate a message of wellness in a big way. ?Breathe Life, Not Tobacco? provides us the perfect opportunity to do so."

Founded in 1985, Health First Network is committed to promoting wellness throughout Northwest Florida and holds steadfast to its mission, which is to improve the health care experience and the quality of life of people in this community. Health First Network, representing a breadth of primary-care physicians and specialists, serves Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton counties.