Cigarette fairy and industry prop

Holy smokes! The cigarette fairy works for ...

Big Tobacco.

Seriously, the campaign to clean up cigarette butt litter in Lexington is being underwritten by the world's largest tobacco company, Philip Morris, also known as Altria the altruistic.

The $5,000 grant comes through the Keep America Beautiful organization which runs on corporate donations.

We're perfectly fine with Lexington using Philip Morris' money to clean up the mess left by smokers and to educate them about the harm caused by throwing butts on the ground. An appropriate message might be: Cigarette's aren't just killing you, they're choking Mother Nature.

A butt tossed on a street or sidewalk ends up being washed into storm sewers and polluting streams. So the anti-butts campaign fits well with Lexington's court-ordered efforts to clean up local streams.

What we're not fine with — and what should be nixed immediately — is the promotion by local government of a pro-smoking image or message, even if it's subtle and, as we're confident this one was, unintentional.

The cigarette fairy, who made her debut in Lexington at a press conference last week, has been a star in campaigns funded by Keep America Beautiful and Philip Morris in other states. She's used to remind smokers that there's no fairy to pick up after them.

Adorable in a flouncy purple dress, striped socks and pigtails, the cigarette fairy, as played by a Lexington actress, is just the sort of character who appeals to children, especially girls.

Joe Camel has his nose under the environmentalist tent, while lung cancer, 90 percent of which is caused by tobacco use, kills more women than breast cancer and smoking doubles a woman's chance of having a heart attack.

Lexington, ground the cigarette fairy.