Nationally recognized anti-tobacco advocate Patrick Reynolds will visit Huron and Sandusky counties in February to warn seventh-grade students of the dangers of tobacco use, thanks to the collaborative efforts of three area hospitals.
The Bellevue Hospital, Norwalk’s Fisher-Titus Medical Center and the Mercy Willard Hospital Foundation will sponsor Reynolds’ presentations Feb. 11 and 12 at four area schools. His advocacy work, motivational talks to youth and appearances in the national press have made him a well-known and respected champion of a tobacco-free society. He has helped remind millions of people about the dangers of tobacco use, and will impact approximately 2,000 students in Sandusky and Huron counties.
On Feb. 11 Reynolds will speak in Norwalk to seventh graders from Norwalk Middle School, Western Reserve, New London, Berlin Milan, St. Paul, Monroeville and Monroeville St. Joseph Schools. Later that day, Reynolds will speak in Willard to seventh-graders representing Buckeye Central, St. Bernard’s, Attica, Celeryville, South Central, Willard and Plymouth Schools.
On Feb. 12, Reynolds will speak in Clyde to seventh graders from Clyde, Clyde St. Mary’s, Bellevue and Bellevue Immaculate Conception Schools. Later that day, he will speak in Fremont to seventh graders from Fremont, Fremont St. Joseph, Bettsville and Gibsonburg Schools.
Reynolds watched his father, R.J. Reynolds, Jr., his oldest brother R.J. Reynolds III, and other members of his family die from cigarette-induced emphysema and lung cancer.
“When my grandfather began manufacturing cigarettes at the turn of the century, he did not know that smoking causes lung disease, heart disease and cancer,” said Patrick Reynolds. “Now that this has been absolutely proven, I want to help people wake up to how addictive and poisonous cigarettes are.”
In 1986, prompted by the increased health risks related to tobacco, Reynolds made the decision to speak out against the industry his family helped build. He became the first tobacco industry figure to do so.
“I was thrust into the spotlight and I decided to commit myself to having smoking banned in public places,” he said. “Second-hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death with 53,000 people dying every year. By 2010, if we don’t get a hold on this, 10 million people on this planet will be dead from smoking-related diseases.”