Middle schoolers hear from unlikely anti-tobacco advocate

"Kick Butts Day" at Ben Hill Middle School. / Sean Streicher

You may not expect a tobacco heir to speak out against an industry that has made his family millions of dollars, but that's exactly what Patrick Reynolds does.

"My only memories of my father are of a man dying from smoking, I remember him gasping for breath dying. Losing my dad impacted me and that's why I crossed over," said Reynolds.

Reynolds has become one of the country's biggest anti-tobacco advocates, and thanks to efforts by the Tift Regional Medical Center, he was able to share his story with middle school students in Tifton and Fitzgerald as they celebrate "Kick Butts Day"

"It's an anti-tobacco campaign, so he's coming to speak to the whole student body and we're really excited to have him come," said Jill Pruitt, the Ben Hill Middle School Guidance Counselor.

Reynolds spoke about some of the ways big tobacco targets children in it's advertising. He said that 90% of smokers are hooked before they're 19.

He wrapped things up by telling the students their future is bright and they're going to need their health, "and one day there's going to be a smoke free society, it's coming one day, and it's coming because of you."