like the 'family' business Reynolds tells teens about dangers
By BECKY BROOKS
CLYDE -- "My only memory of my father is of a man lying
down dying from emphysema," the great-grandson of tobacco
mogul R.J. Reynolds Sr. shared back stage in the Clyde High
School auditorium Tuesday morning.
Patrick Reynolds, a nationally recognized anti-tobacco
advocate, shared his thoughts with seventh graders from
McPherson Middle School and St. Mary's School.
Before talking with the students, Reynolds shared that
since speaking at a Congressional hearing in 1986 about
banning cigarette advertising, he has worked to make a
He explained in a media interview that seventh grade was
the age where youth start turning away from their parents'
advice. "They tend to disbelieve everything an adult says," he
On stage, Reynolds shared the story of his childhood in the
Reynolds family - a divorce and not meeting his father until
he was nine-years-old.
"I felt a little angry," he told the pre-teens. Then when
he finally met his father, R.J. Reynolds Jr., he was dying
from using the product that had earned the family a fortune.
"He died when I was 16."
"Cigarettes are addictive," Patrick Reynolds emphasized to
the teens. "Once you start you can't stop," he said, adding
that statistics show most adults will not start the habit.
"It means nobody starts smoking after 19," he stressed,
adding the tobacco industry then must aim its advertising at
teens to gain new customers.
The speaker Tuesday was sponsored by The Bellevue Hospital,
Fisher-Titus Medical Center and Mercy Willard Hospital
Foundation. He was touring area schools and was slated to
speak to 2,000 youths in Huron and Sandusky counties within
Joann Ventura, marketing director for TBH, said that
Bellevue and Immaculate Conception schools were slated to
attend the Clyde engagement Tuesday, but school was closed
there due to weather.
In the CHS auditorium, Reynolds polled the youth audience
asking who had seen others their age smoking in the past week.
Nearly 30 youths raised their hands. He asked how many has
seen other youths using "chew" and 10 teens raised their
hands. He continued polling the youths asking about the use of
inhalants, marijuana and heroin - each time students raises
"If you smoke you are more likely to go onto other drugs,"
he stressed. "A minimum wage job is out there just waiting for
you - if you have it together enough to keep a job."
Reynolds stressed, "Not all adults are looking out for your
Reynolds presented a group of slides of cigarette
advertisements promoting use of candy and liquor-flavored
cigarettes, asking the audience who they thought the ads were
aimed at - youths or adults.
"Once a teen gets hooked it takes an average 17 years," he
said about quitting.
Reynolds also invited two students to the front. Taylor
Hyde-Norman said she would like to see her grandmother quit
smoking. Using seventh grader Bennett Brown to stand in as a
family member, Hyde-Norman had to pose her comments to Brown.
"I am a little angry that you smoke," the girl said. "I
want you to try and stop smoking."
After the program, she commented, "I thought it was
interesting. I listened to it."
Another seventh grader in the audience, Caitlyn Hermes
added, " I thought it was a good idea."
Reynolds also shared a story and photographs of a
17-year-old boy who developed tongue cancer from using chewing
tobacco. The audience was pin-drop quiet when he showed them a
photo of the former high school athlete who died of cancer at
He commented chewing tobacco had almost gone out of
existence and became an old man's tobacco when the tobacco
industry spent $10 million to advertise the product using
athlete endorsements to paid display placements on store
counters next to the candy.
"Our kids got hooked," he said.
At the end of his program, Reynolds told the youths to
"hold onto their health." Despite concerns about global
warming, recession and wars, he commented there will be great
"One day there will be a tobacco-free society," he stood
back on the stage and told the youths.