The grandson of the late tobacco mogul R.J. Reynolds swooped through Cleveland Wednesday to swipe at Issue 4, the pro-tobacco measure sponsored by grandpa’s company.

Patrick Reynolds broke ties with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to become an anti-tobacco crusader. He founded the Foundation for Tobaccofree Earth, based in Los Angeles.

“R.J. Reynolds has gone over to the dark side,” he said in a telephone interview, accusing the Issue 4 campaign of deception for promoting the issue as an anti-smoking measure.

Issue 4 is a constitutional amendment that would protect the right to smoke in bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and bingo halls. It would ban smoking in many public buildings that allow children.

Issue 5, also on the Nov. 7 ballot, would outlaw smoking in virtually all indoor public spaces.

SmokeFree Ohio, a campaign of the American Cancer Society, is pushing that initiative. SmokeFree brought Reynolds to Ohio.

If both issues pass, SmokeFree will in effect lose because Issue 4, as a constitutional amendment, will take precedence.

“R.J. Reynolds sees a tidal wave of these laws coming,” said Reynolds, 57. “They are fighting back with vengeance. It’s like Custer’s last stand.”

His father, R.J. Reynolds Jr., and several other relatives died of cancer, heart disease and emphysema caused by smoking, he said during an earlier news conference.

Asked if he benefits from the family fortune, Reynolds said he has used tobacco money for his campaign.

“I’m not a wealthy man,” he said. “I lost most of my inherited money in a failed stop-smoking venture that I formed in 1987. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

– Harlan Spector

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