Argus Leader
Sioux Falls, SD

April 17, 2013

by Sean Streicher
Written by Mark Walker

The grandson of R.J. Reynolds — founder of the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. — brought his anti-smoking message to Canton on Thursday.

Patrick Reynolds addressed the health concerns directly associated with tobacco use.

Reynolds told workers at Adams Thermal Systems he knows it is hard to quit, but building a positive support system helps.

“Make a list of two to three people who will support you at home, and make a second list of the same number of people at work,” he said. “Then make a list of people who won’t support you.


aption: Patrick Reynolds gives an anti-smoking presentation Wednesday to employees of Adams Thermal Systems in Canton. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Argus Leader Buy image
Talking about his own struggle to quit smoking, Reynolds demonstrated a surprise attack of near-uncontrollable desire six months into quitting. “Out of the blue I suddenly had a bad angel whispering in my ear, ‘Go on, man, you can have just one, you’ve been smoke-free for six months now! Go, on, enjoy!’ But I knew if I took just one, I’d go back to smoking.”


Before speaking at the factory, Reynolds spoke to the children of Canton at Canton high school.

Reynolds serves as executive director of a nonprofit group he founded to advocate against tobacco products.

Since 1989, the Foundation for a Tobaccofree Earth’s mission has been to motivate youths to live tobacco-free and to help empower smokers to quit successfully.

“Patrick Reynolds is one of the most credible and influential voices on the subject of a smoke-free society. Obviously, we’re thrilled that he’s agreed to come, and we expect a great response from employees,” said Brian Denny, manager of safety, training, development and compliance at Adams Thermal.

Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. and is responsible for an estimated 438,000 deaths per year. Worldwide, tobacco use results in almost 5 million deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reynolds’ initial crusade against smoking began after publicly speaking out at a congressional hearing in favor of banning all tobacco advertising.

“They say you find your calling in the deepest wound, and my wound was losing my father,” he said.

Reynolds said his only memory of his father was of a man dying of emphysema caused by smoking.

Melissa Sue Gerrits – Argus Leader

Employees of Adams Thermal Systems listen to speaker Patrick Reynolds give an anti-smoking presentation on April 17, 2013, in Canton, SD. Reynolds is the grandson of tobacco company founder RJ Reynolds.


Mike Adams, CEO of Adams Thermal Systems, informed his employees that the company would become a smoke-free campus effective July 1.

Adams said about 18 percent of the company’s employees smoke, and the company hasn’t been able to put a dent in the number during the past three years.

A study conducted by the CDC has found that implementing a smoke-free campus policy in an office workplace that already has a smoke-free policy indoors was associated with an increase in the number of those who quit smoking and a reduction in daily cigarette consumption.

In addition to offering smoking cessation resources to support employees, Adams wanted to bring someone in to speak to them.

Reynolds told the workers that he firmly believes that one day, the world will be a smoke-free community, and that day is approaching soon.

“Tobacco has become more expensive. Teenagers are very price-sensitive, so when prices are higher, less teens smoke,” he said.

He added that if the tobacco tax continues to rise, that could cause smokers to possibly quit and teenagers never to get started.

Adam said the company plans to have Reynolds return to speak before the smoke-free campus goes into effect; however, he also wants to take an additional approach to encouraging his workers.

“We want to have testimonies by our own employees. It would mean a lot,” he said.


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