From the Archives: Using a pacifier in an anti-smoking campaign

After years of using a pacifier in his anti-smoking talks aimed at young people, Alex Andres expanded his lectures to include adult audiences. He reached adults by lecturing on the negative effects smoking could have on their sex lives.

In a Nov. 4, 1979, Los Angeles Times story, staff photographer Ken Lubas, reported:

The man puckered as he popped a pacifier in his mouth and glared at the classroom of giggling teen-agers.

He had their attention.

Pulling it out, he said, “Imagine it was a cigarette. Smoking is a carryover from infant sucking days. It’s kid stuff … ”

Alex Andres, 68, of Woodland Hills, has been using a pacifier as an attention grabber for the past 17 years while delivering his anti-smoking message in classrooms as a volunteer lecturer.

Now he is carrying his campaign to adults too, at service club gatherings and fraternal meetings, but there’s no pacifier.

Instead, there’s a word — SEX.

“It’s salesmanship,” said Andres, a retired insurance broker, who has received many awards for his anti-smoking work.

“An adult smoker just isn’t interested in hearing about the effects of smoking on health, but talk about sex and sexuality and, more often than not, you’ve got a captured audience.

“It’s an automatic response to equate cancer and lung disease with something that happens to the other guy and let it go at that, but talk about sex appeal and performance — that’s something else.”

The last mention of Andres in the Los Angeles Times was in a June 20, 1996, story. Ed Bond wrote that, “Andres’ dislike for tobacco goes back to a welding accident he had as a college engineering student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The accident injured his eyes, making them extremely sensitive to smoke.

He said he approaches his work to reduce smoking with almost a religious fervor.

“But the best reward I got is the satisfaction in knowing I saved lives,” he said. “I helped people quit.”

Bond’s story: Crusader Takes a Tough Stand on Tobacco is online.

The above photo accompanied Ken Lubas’ story in the Nov. 4, 1979, Los Angeles Times.

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