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Horizons: Family Office & Investor Magazine

Patrick Reynolds, the Unlikely Anti-Smoking Activist

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Patrick Reynolds, son of R.J. Reynolds Jr., part of the historic R.J. Reynolds tobacco family, is on a mission to rid the world of smoking. He's been an anti-smoking activist since the 1980s when he surprised the world testifying against Big Tobacco before Congress. Now he's working to build an endowment for his foundation - The Foundation For a SmokeFree America and launch a goodwill tour around the world to help other countries adopt measures to combat smoking.

"Tobacco took my father away from me, and that had a very profound effect on my life," Reynolds tells Horizons. "His death contributed to my decision to speak out later against the industry that made my family wealthy. I realized I had a strong platform to make a difference on the tobacco issue, and that I was in a position to save lives."

When Reynolds gave his testimony before Congress in 1986, smoking was more prevalent in society than it is today. In the years which followed, Reynolds campaigned in many states in favor of early smoking bans, and advocated for laws limiting youth access to cigarettes, for state and national tobacco tax increases, and for using some of the new tobacco revenues to fund smoking prevention and cessation campaigns. "When I began, we were just starting to understand how damaging second-hand smoke is. We were up against people who didn't believe the science or just didn't want change," Reynolds says. "

"Our early successes were all with city governments, but after just a few years, state legislatures began passing statewide smoking bans."

Reynolds pioneered a playbook that includes a mix of policy, consciousness raising and muckraking to beat back Big Tobacco's empire. Taken together, the efforts of Reynolds and other activists have cut smoking in the US by 50%. Now, after 30-years of focusing on the US, Reynolds wants to take his foundation global. He's launching a goodwill tour that will start in Dubai, with the goal of raising awareness about smoking in geographies where it is still widely accepted.

"We know from our work in the US that these policies work. They are effective in helping people quit and keeping kids from starting," Reynolds says. "But, there are still many places where we aren't having this conversation. And internationally, there is potentially more that we can do. In Australia for example, they have removed all the fancy packaging and instead include a picture of diseased lungs. Courts have ruled that violates the first amendment in the US, but there is no reason other foreign jurisdictions couldn't take up their own packaging restrictions."

Part of the goodwill tour will include speaking and networking with families and other high net worth individuals who may want to be involved with anti-smoking advocacy. Reynolds says that he thinks his unique platform as someone who is part of the

R.J. Reynolds family, helps him reach people and take what he says as credible. Reynolds is also hoping to find like-minded families that want to work with his foundation as part of their philanthropic efforts. "I'm going to do this for the rest of my life," he says. "I think we can eradicate smoking in my lifetime."

B. McCann

TobaccoFree.org is an online resource for anti-smoking advocacy supported by Patrick Reynolds. Vistors can learn more about his efforts, his goodwill tour and how to help The Foundation For A Smoke-Free America.

In addition to his anti-smoking work, Reynolds is also an advocate for Operation Santa, a goodwill project of the US Postal Service. With Operation Santa, individuals can take the letters low-income children write to Santa and send gifts to those who might not otherwise get them. Project Elf also works with parents who have made requests for holiday gift assistance.

Reynolds supports a website called "Be An Elf" designed to raise awareness of the Operation Santa project and helps donors match with families during the holiday season.

 
This article was published in Opalesque's Horizons: Family Office & Investor Magazine.
Horizons: Family Office & Investor Magazine
Horizons: Family Office & Investor Magazine
Horizons: Family Office & Investor Magazine
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