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The ethical principle of autonomy requires that every individual should be treated as an autonomous agent and that every person who has diminished autonomy is entitled to protection. This principle states that each person has a duty of respecting the ability of another person to make informed decisions about matters affecting the other person. The principle of beneficence states that every individual has a right of receiving protection from harm in addition to receiving maximum benefits. The principle of justice requires that a research grants each person equal share according to his individual need, personal effort, societal contribution and merit.
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The research question that the researchers were seeking to address was whether there were sales of single cigarettes in the community under study. They wanted to investigate if the neighborhoods and liquor stores were selling single cigarettes thus, making it hard for smokers to quit. The research subjects in this research were convenient and liquor stores selling single cigarettes. The collected data was anonymous since it was impossible to trace the data to the research subjects. This is because each store was assigned alphanumeric codes thus making tracing difficult. Informed consent could not be obtained from the subjects since they were committing an illegal act of selling single cigarettes thus they would not allow themselves to be caught while committing the act.
The work violated the principle of autonomy since the research subjects were not given an opportunity of raising their opinion on whether they would have liked to participate in the research. It also violated the principle of beneficence since the subjects could be harmed during the process of research due to conflicts that might have occurred during the research process. It violated the principle of justice since the subjects could not benefit from the research, as some of them might have been imprisoned after being caught committing the act. The author made an argument that the ethical review process was quite narrow since it did not consider ethics from a broader community versus individual focus. This is because a research may benefit the whole community more compared to one individual. In this research, the smoking rates in the community would have reduced if the board allowed this research to continue therefore, benefitting the whole community. I side with the study investigators since smoking rates would reduce in the community after people saw how it was easy to access single cigarettes from the published research thus making it hard for them to quit smoking. I would approved this study if I were sitting on the IRB since it would have benefitted the whole community as it would have helped in reducing the access of single cigarettes.
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