14 percent of high school students in Michigan smoke cigarettes.
About 9,800 kids in Michigan under the age of 18 pick up the habit every year. And over 23 percent of adults in Michigan are already hooked. Nationally, numbers are even worse.
"Tobacco advertising has targeted kids in the past. And they really want them to smoke, because they know if they don't get them by 19, hardly anybody over the age of 19 starts smoking," said Patrick Reynolds.
Patrick Reynolds traveled to Gwinn Schools Tuesday to educate youth about the dangers of tobacco. He is a grandson of the tobacco company founder, R.J. Reynolds, maker of brands like Camel and Winston cigarettes, but witnessed his father, and eldest brother, die from smoking-induced emphysema and lung cancer.
"My only memories of my father are R.J. Reynolds, Jr., are of the man dying, from smoking. And as a Reynolds, I have a wonderful platform to make a difference, and bring the message against smoking to the whole community. So that's really why I do what I do," said Reynolds.
As a result, Reynolds has devoted his life to an anti-smoking campaign. Since 1986, he become the first tobacco industry figure to turn his back on the cigarette business. Students at Gwinn were all ears as Reynolds shared his personal experiences with tobacco, and stories from others who've been affected.
"They're like little sponges and it's a great age to reach out to those students and educate them and help them understand and see some of these issues, especially with tobacco," said Alex Kerlin, a Health major at Northern Michigan University.
"Marquette County, you know, a lot of the places made great steps in going smoke free and restaurants. NMU, that actually made it possible for Patrick Reynolds to be here, they have just gone smoke free on campus, and I think it's going to be a wave of the future," said Lorrie Smith, a Health Educator at the Marquette County Health Department.
According to www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org, Michigan ranks very low for keeping the state smoke-free.
It goes by letter grades. Michigan received a 'B' for smoke-free air, a 'C' for cigarette tax, meaning the tax is too low, an 'F' for smoking cessation coverage through health care centers and the media, and an 'F' for tobacco prevention programs.