R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has hit a “new low” by trying to trump an Ohio antismoking ballot item with a proposal to enshrine weaker indoor-smoking rules in the state constitution, the grandson of the company founder says.

The Toledo Blade reported Oct. 26 that Patrick Reynolds visited a prenatal clinic in Colombus and said that company founder Richard Joshua Reynolds, “as much as he did to market and popularize smoking of cigarettes, is spinning in his grave with what they are doing now.”

Reynolds said that unlike today’s company executives, his grandfather did not know the dangers of smoking. The founder’s son, R.J. Reynolds Jr., and grandson R.J. Reynolds III both died of emphysema. Patrick Reynolds quit smoking in 1985, on his 12th try.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. is spending $40 million this year to try to defeat indoor-smoking bans in states like Ohio, as well as ballot items calling for higher cigarette taxes. “Why do they do this? Because they want to protect their future profits,” Reynolds said, noting that antismoking regulation has reached a tipping point. “R.J. Reynolds sees a tidal wave of smoking laws coming on them and coming on them fast … They’ve decided to fight back and they’re fighting back with a vengeance.”

A spokesperson for the industry-backed constitutional amendment on the Ohio ballot, Issue 3, replied, “In all due respect to Mr. Reynolds, this is an Ohio issue that will be decided by Ohio voters, of whom Mr. Reynolds is not. Most Ohioans support a reasonable, commonsense approach.”

Health organizations in the state support the tougher Issue 5. But if both questions pass, Issue 4 would prevail because it is a constitutional amendment.

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