By: Kara Duffy
March 25, 2014
Bainbridge, GA- Students at Bainbridge Middle School made their way to the auditorium Tuesday to hear from a special guest speaker; Patrick Reynolds.
Reynolds is the grandson of tobacco company founder, R.J Reynolds.
"My only memories of my father, R.J Reynolds, Jr. are of a man dying from smoking," Reynolds, who is now a spokesperson for Tobaccofree.org. "His death from smoking helped me turn against my heritage and do everything I can to keep our young people off of cigarettes."
School officials say they're all for teaching students at an early age just how dangerous smoking can be.
"I think we're seeing more and more students engage or at least curious about trying it and I think the earlier that we address this issue, the better off we will be in our community," said Bainbridge Middle School Principal John Wooden.
Students listened closely at Reynolds talked about losing his father. He also looked at the different ways media advertisements portray tobacco.
"I feel like the media tries to make it seem not as bad as it is, and they make it seem like it's the cool thing to do," said 8th grader Gillian Williams.
Reynold's visit comes just a few days after smoking and tobacco products were banned on all campuses of Georgia's public colleges and universities.
"I think it's a good step in the right direction. I think that's going to certainly help," said Billy Walker, the CEO of Memorial Hospital and Manor.
Reynolds says at the end of the day; it's about health not wealth.
"Think positive," he said. "Reevaluate what real wealth is. It's not just about money, it's about friendship and family and love and home."