His stage, a hangar at Naval Air Station Pensacola, his audience, a thousand teenagers from Escambia County High Schools.
His message, “He was basically just trying to say smoking is bad, you don’t need to smoke,” says tenth grader Demonte Dawson.
Patrick Reynolds has turned his back on the tobacco industry that made a fortune for the R.J. Reynolds family and he says for good reason. “My only memories of my father are of him lying down dying from emphysema.”
He tells the teens they are targets of tobacco advertisers and according to research if kids don’t start smoking by the time they are 19, they likely won’t start, “I think some of them are going to hear me, some will be talking and they’ll block it out but many of them I think we will make a difference.”
Reynolds is building his own empire by forming a foundation for a Tobaccofree Earth. “I make a difference doing this work. I’ll probably do it the rest of my life, he says.
“You got to be dedicated not to smoke, says Dawson.
Patrick Reynolds has taken on the tobacco industry since 1986 when he testified before congress.
He has been described as one of the nation’s most influential anti-smoking advocates.