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Patrick Reynolds, the grandson of tobacco magnate RJ Reynolds, spoke to Reed Middle School in Springfield last week about the dangers of smoking and tobacco use. KSMU’s Chasity Mayes has more.
[Sound: kids talking]
Around 500 kids gathered in the auditorium last week to hear the presentation.
After watching his father, oldest brother, and other members of his family die from cigarette-induced emphysema and lung cancer, Reynolds now travels the world giving motivational speeches against the family tobacco business.
The presentation emphasized the addictiveness of tobacco and showed students how the tobacco industry targets young people.
Immediately after his presentation, Reynolds told us he felt like his presentation was a success.
“There was a pocket when I asked how many of you have seen someone smoking where there was a bunch of hands going up and when I asked them how many of you have seen someone using drugs inhalants or methamphetamine or heroin whatever you have within where we saw the smokers is where we saw some of the same hands going up. And I think I was able to let that group know, with great clarity, that this is going to kill you and the drugs are just going to destroy your life,” says Reynolds.
Reynolds also talked about how smoking can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, and respiratory problems. He first spoke out publicly at a 1986 congressional hearing in favor of a ban on all tobacco advertising. Along with educating young people about the effects of tobacco use, Reynolds also uses his platform to teach children how to approach their family members about giving up tobacco.
Reed Middle School wasn’t his only stop that day. He also met with a group of CoxHealth employees to talk about the importance of a smoke-free workplace. CoxHealth sponsored his visit to Springfield.
According to the American Heart Association, smoking brings an early death to more than 400,000 people in the United States each year.
For KSMU News, I’m Chasity Mayes.