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R.J. Reynolds Heir Lights Fire Under Big Tobacco

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CHAPEL HILL — R.J. Reynolds' grandson is lighting a fire under big tobacco; Patrick Reynolds spoke out against the industry that built his family fortune Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.

The heir to theR.J. Reynoldsfortune is dead-set against big tobacco. He says small tobacco farmers have been betrayed, and campaign contributions have made the industry too powerful.

"If the most despised industry in this country can have its way with Congress for 30 years, then there's something wrong with the picture and it's time for campaign finance reform," said Patrick Reynolds, grandson of R.J. Reynolds.

Reynolds also takes issue with the tobacco settlement. "The settlement has loopholes in it, and it's half the money that the national tobacco settlement would have given us," Reynolds said.

Not everyone who came to see Reynolds was there listen. Opponents showed up to voice their opinions.

"The state of North Carolina was built on tobacco money.This universitywas built on tobacco money and tobacco taxes," says G.R. Quinn, a pro-tobacco activist. "And we want that to remain a major industry in North Carolina."

What Reynolds says he really wants is a smoke-free society. Reynolds said 90 percent of smokers pick up the habit before age 19. "If we can just keep kids off of cigarettes until age 19, they're not going to start smoking," Reynolds said.

Reynolds has lost three family members to smoking-related illnesses.