Smoking's Not Cool, Singer Tells Students Richard Marx Says Latest Pop Bands Are 'Really Health Conscious'

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Byline: Kristin Larson Daily Herald Staff Writer

Richard Marx is best known for his late 1980s hits like "Don't Mean Nothing," but the pop singer is also becoming famous for something else - trying to stop kids from smoking.

As part of Thursday's Great American Smokeout, Marx visited students at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee and Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire to talk about the dangers of cigarettes and tobacco and how "uncool" it is for young people to light up.

"The guys you look up to right now, 'N Sync, the Backstreet Boys, they're all really health conscious," Marx told about 50 Woodland seventh-graders.

"Some people might sugarcoat this, but the chances are somebody in this room is going to die from cigarettes," said the singer, who lost his grandmother and aunt to smoking-related illnesses and who has never smoked himself.

The 36-year-old Marx, who lives in the Lake Forest area, said unlike 20 years ago, smoking is no longer cool among musicians and entertainers.

And he spared no examples on why smoking is so unappealing - from possible death to smelly clothes - and told teens the tobacco industry is "counting on (them) getting hooked."

"If every young person was as educated as you guys are, that would cripple the tobacco industry," he said.

Hands shot up in the audience when they heard how Marx lost his grandmother to emphysema 10 years ago. …