Lexington, Kentucky, April 2, 2003





Lexington, Kentucky, April 2, 2003




Is it ethical to pay these public people to do public anti-tobacco advertising?

Ask your children, students, and youth groups?

I would like to post your comments on this web page, with or without your name.

Please send to Mike TobaccoKills2000@aol.com


From Michigan:
 If the ad said, "my poverty / homelessness is due to my smoking, http://medicolegal.tripod.com/preventhomelessness.htm; don't end up like me."
Otherwise, it wouldn't be sincere!

From South Africa:
Would you pick up a hitch hiker that was smoking? Knowing he has thumped the butt into the tall grass around him without caring? Knowing he would gladly get into your motor car with his lit cigarette? No you would not. this ethically denies him the assistance he wants.
Then why would we assist the smokers wanting you to help them when the same ethics apply? No, rather help someone truly in need, not someone feeding an addiction in lieu of buying something for his loved ones that  may need a lot more that he needs a pack of cigarettes.
Again, we see what depravity the tobacco industry inflicts on man.

From Connecticut:

From California:
 Interesting placards.  I take a sympathetic view of anyone who is in need, because I feel that 'there but for the grace of God go I', but when they are holding a cigarette, this just about negates any message they might be trying to send, mixed signals. I can't quite read the sign the guy on the right is holding. Appears to be asking for help for his family, holding a cigarette?

From US:
 might be a good way to focus on the connection between tobacco as the main preventable cause of poverty in its roll as stealer of health.


From Arizona:

Ethical?  My answer would be, yes - if they are truly willing.  If this isn't ethical, than it wouldn't be ethical to utilize convicted drunk drivers to speak to school groups, or utilize mentoring programs that offer advice/testimonials from those who have chosen the wrong path.
To me, the use of a smoker - especially a homeless, poor and addicted smoker is not in the least unethical.  It highlights what could happen to unsuspecting teens who are still convinced that 'smoking is cool'.
The problem to me is not ethics, it's in finding sincere takers.   A person may say yes, they'll talk to kids....but will you know their character and commitment level?  Are they sane, addicted, or looking for a quick buck?  Will their insincerity show through?  What if your background check doesn't reveal that they are a child molester, or schizophrenic?  Are you opening your program up for liability risks?
I had an experience when I was a teen that really colors my opinion.  My social studies class was visited by a 'court appointed' drug user as part of his sentence (which included one year of incarceration in a local facility).  He discussed what he had done, how he had gotten caught and what it was like in jail.  He was doing such a good job that his guard and the social studies teacher decided to take a break in the hallway.  During the next 15 minutes our class learned how to find drugs, how to use drugs and was even given instructions on how to find the best 'dealer'.

From Virginia:
If paying them would help them "kick the habit" and get help, it might not be a bad ideal!

In Christ,

From Oregon Newspaper:
Not sure. Against tobacco or funds used to grow it.

If you'd like to write an opinion we may publish it.

From California:
I think it would turn most people off by having homeless and panhandlers being paid for anti-tobacco work.

From Georgia:
I believe there are more than enough nonsmokers who are down on their luck
and we should be helping them.  Also, you stand the chance of finding people
who will really do the job well because they don't like tobacco smoke, etc.

As stated by others, it is risky to do such a project with current users. 
The drug user was a good example that some haven't even learned from their
jail experience.  However, the drunk may have been a reformed drinker and
may have been useful.

Some who beg make more than other people doing regular jobs (especially
after taxes are taken out).  Some like those in the photos may require more
money than minimum wage to get them away from begging.  Beggars may be
unsightly, but that is a heck of alot better than stealing.

Thus, I am not sure if it is or is not ethical to use such smokers to
campaign against smoking, but their smoking may get in the way of the
message, and their hearts probably won't be in it enough.  It would be
better to use nonsmokers, or those who have quit smoking and who need some
support to stay tobacco-free.

From an AWESOME Kentucky newspaper reporter:
Hi Mike. I'm glad to hear from you. I hope things are going well and that you and your family had a good holiday season.
    As for your question on whether ethical to have people who are homeless or publicly asking for help carry messages against tobacco, I would say yes. I see nothing wrong with it if the people are willing to do it. It might defeat the purpose if they're also smoking cigarettes while they're carrying an anti-tobacco sign, but I think any legal method for getting the message out is acceptable.

From Washington DC:

While it is important to look for opportunities to convey public health messages to a variety of individuals in a variety of circumstances in life, you have to be careful not be viewed as exploiting individuals simply because of their current circumstances in life.  I think, if done incorrectly, tobacco control advocates could be viewed as taking advantage of less fortunate individuals, for whom tobacco use is probably one of their least concerns when compared to the need for shelter, food, clothing, and medical care.  I think a more fruitful avenue of pursue, if the goal is to try and engage and reach out to homeless individuals who do often have co-morbid conditions (substance abuse, mental illness, alcohol and tobacco use), would be to engage established providers of care to homeless populations (shelters, meals-on-wheels, MH/SA case work professionals) and educate them about the need to reduce prevalence of tobacco use among the homeless.  It is an intriguing idea you have proposed, but one I fear is potentially filled with many negatives that could outweigh the benefits.
From Alabama:
Hi, Mike!  Nice to hear from you, and hope all is well with you and your family!  As to whether or not it is ethical to pay these people to do public advertising against smoking, I do not think it is ethical since I am of the opinion that life is full of choices, and these people made their choice for their life, with knowledge, which was the wrong choice.  I don't think they should be paid to do this now.  It's nice that they want to get the information out now; however, they obviously did not listen to the warnings regarding the dangers of smoking at some point in their life.






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