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Reynolds heir blows smoke in tobacco industry's eyes

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PATRICK REYNOLDS is the ultimate tobacco-industry diversification. This grandson of tobacco king R.J. Reynolds has beaten his cigarettes into audiocassettes so people will learn smoking no more.

Mr. Reynolds sold his tobacco stock several years ago and now promotes tapes that aim to help people stop smoking.

That's a little like the scion of a New England slave-trading family taking up abolitionism, or a bootlegger's boy taking the pledge.

Reynolds likens American tobacco-company efforts to market cigarettes abroad, while smoking in the United States declines, to ``a new opium trade.''

``It's a product as addictive as heroin,'' he said, spearing some pasta for emphasis at lunch here. ``We have one set of standards for our own citizens, and another set of standards for foreign peoples.''

Such sharp comments, coupled with his family name and a photogenic presence honed by his acting career, give Reynolds unique stature as drum major for the anti-smoking movement.

And he's riding high in a year that has seen a report from Surgeon General C. Everett Koop that found cigarettes can be addictive and a historic jury decision in New Jersey that found a cigarette company partly responsible for a woman's death.

A wave of hundreds of local smoking ordinances continues to swell across the US, including a recent one in Chicago where typically combative aldermen were photographed defiantly lighting up in the City Council chamber.

Oregon voters will rule on a strengthened indoor pollution measure in November, while a California referendum will seek to raise cigarette taxes, with some of the proceeds going to medical research.

Meanwhile, antismoking advocates hope that they will have the votes in Congress next year to pass the Luken bill and follow Canada's lead by banning the promotion and advertising of cigarettes. The bill would also ban vending-machine cigarette sales and includes other measures as well.


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