Today’s increasingly diversified tobacco companies remain dependent on tobacco revenues: Philip Morris derives less than half of its sales but more than two thirds of its profits from a product that is responsible for more than one in every six deaths in the United States. – Alix M. Freedman, 1991
Tobacco has been controversial since the first medical report of tobacco’s ill effects at 1665. As we are well aware, the tobacco industry has been facing heavy fire from civilian groups in recent years because the number of disease and death is increased significantly caused by smoking addiction. However, every country and its government appreciate that a huge contribution of levying taxes from cigarette production. Focus on the development of social civilization, is it ethical to ban smoking or let it have its swing? What should we estimate the station of the tobacco industry properly?
In this essay we choose Philip Morris Company, which is the largest American cigarette company in the world, as a typical example to discuss the issue. Philip Morris Company has a long history of more than one hundred years and remains the industry leader today. The company currently holds a 14% share of the international cigarette market. Its affiliates manufacture, market, sell and distribute cigarettes in over 160 countries around the world. To this day, Philip Morris Company, as a representative of tobacco industry, which is America’s seventh largest cash crop with exports, is contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. balance of trade.
From this article, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the tobacco industry separately. Try to let the readers understand that there are no absolute ethics regarding cigarette production. We cannot judge exactly an issue in one side or other side.
Why do people smoke?
Some people believe smoking would make them look cool and attractive, however, it also makes them smell like an ashtray with stained teeth, and actually, smoking causes winkles. Some people think smoking will bring their weight down, which is unreasonable at all. Some people smoke just because they enjoy it, nevertheless, they neglect if people around them enjoy smoking or not. Some people suppose smoking calms their nerves, on the contrary, smoking does not relieve stress at all, people feel less stressed because they are addicted to cigarettes. There are also some other reasons for people keep smoking, such as, most of his/her family smoke, only take low tar cigarettes, too late to give up smoking, have no will power…It seems that people could find out any excuse to continue smoking.
In a long-term, smoking can lead to death. Smoking is the largest causes death on twentieth in the world. It kills nearly 5 million people each year in the world. First of all, smoking can cause lung cancer; the cigarette smoke has the toxic chemical can cause cancer. Secondly, smoking also can make heart disease but most people do not realize that. Thirdly, smoking kills are killing the baby before their born, because smoking can cause the cervical cancer, which is one of the main causes for abortion. Last but not the least, smoking has caused impotence in 120,000 men aged 30-50, and up to 5,000 miscarriages a year, reduces the chances of successful IVF and is implicated in cases of cervical cancer. (BMA, Feb 11,2004).
Do non-smokers always tell people who are smoking around them: if you smoke, do not exhale? No, perhaps not every single time, then, they become passive smokers, which mean they are involuntary breathing of other people’s tobacco smoke. For example, when there are four people sitting together for a meeting, three of them smoke and the other one who doesn’t smoke is actually smoking as a second hand smoker as well. Unfortunately, passive smoking also kills hundreds people every year and causes misery for many illness.
Smoking particularly harms children. The children’s bronchial tubes are smaller and their immune systems are less developed even their breath faster than adults so they can breathe more harmful chemicals per pound of their weight than an adult in the same amount of time. For example, nearly 17,000 children are illnesses respiratory caused by passive smoking every year in the UK.1 Another ways of affecting children is pregnant smoker. Smoking reduces the chances of a woman conceiving by up to 40% per cycle. Smoking causes the cot death, premature birth, respiratory infection and even the development of childhood asthma.
So, should smoking be banned?
However, the tobacco companies would say No firstly. Have a look at the Annual report of the Phillip Morris, which is company the largest tobacco company in the US: the sales revenue of 2003 is, and the earnings Per Share Growth of 9% to 11% reaffirmed for the full-year 2002. In another hand, government would be hesitating due to the 5% per year-increased tobacco tax. In UK, the tobacco tax last year is Last but not the least, the tobacco companies offer huge amount of jobs! Only the Philip Morris Company has approximately 3,500 employees work at the Manufacturing Centre and around 3,300 work in other Richmond offices.
So far, the situation seems much vague.
A good business is not only judged by whether it maximise shareholders’ wealth, but also whether the organisation satisfies the society’s expectation. Corporate social contract concept and Stakeholder Benefit Analysis become more and more essential in understanding the corporate ethics enhancing. In order to analysis the value of Phillip Morris and whether this tobacco magnate keep growing expanding or changing the business, the following part will go through the Five Question Approach (Tucker 1990)(see appendix1), and finally reach a conclusion, which would make effort on shaping a more ethical company attitude in order to treat its employees, customers, community and stockholders in a fair and honest manner.
The primary question is whether the decision is accrual. Obviously, Philip Morris, a Century company would lose everything if the smoking were banned absolutely, because Phillip Morris only produces tobacco. However, non-smokers would not be victims, and smokers would quit smoking one day due to the brand loyalty or less provided tobacco.
The next question is if this decision is within the law. Yes, it is. Government should concern the health problems of the whole country, not only the public finance. Cigarette companies indeed bring an enormous figure of taxation to the government, however, medical expenses for the sickness of smokers and passive smokers is not a small number. According to Viscusi, W.Kip’s report, ‘Cigarette Taxation and the Social Consequences of Smoking’ (Tax Policy and the Economy, 1995), the result is surprisingly that smokers sponsor the health and medical fund. This is due to two reasons: firstly, smokers have mainly two diseases to be cured through their lives, while non-smokers have about seven different diseases to be cures.
Secondly, people who smoke and die 15 years early are net financial benefactors to the rest of society, by living most of a normal productive tax-paying life and dying before they can claim their retirement benefits (Thomas C. Schelling, 1986). Each package of cigarette American buys brings $1.11 net profit for the economy, which was stated in John Woolsey’s report, ‘Society’s Windfall profit from smokers’. Therefore, from economic perspective, smoking should be encouraged instead of being banned. However, we cannot reverse the conclusion but consider the aggregate inflict costs on non-smokers. And also, we should aware: wealth is not health!
The third query is whether the decision is equitable for the whole society. As it is shown before, tobacco is deadly not only to users but also to innocents exposed to its noxious fumes. Why should it not be banned and the tobacco companies be closed.
The following question is relativism and objectivity of belief. Individual relativists claim that what an individual person thinks is right or wrong really is right or wrong for that person (Tom L. Beauchamp ; Norman E., 1997). Many people cannot quit smoking and protest the pressure of anti-smoking, even they think it is discriminatory, especially when they are not given job opportunity simply because they are smokers. However, they should aware that second hand smokers are falling victim because of them.
The last question is whether the environment is benefited from the decision. Take globalisation into account, government should be accountability in their responsibility and value.
Although tobacco companies’ contributions are not be neglected, there is universal awareness of the conclusion of preventing smoking with a long view to the development of human’s health. We suggest strongly that it will be enforced effectively by a powerful cooperation among governments/organizations, tobacco companies and smoking individuals.
Throughout the world, some regulations have been set to enable countries to control tobacco advertising or conscribe high tax for decreasing cigarette sales. The World Health Organization, perform as a leader of countries and work with other organizations in the world, should make a global framework and boost an international action to prevent tobacco smuggling and promote smoking-cessation programs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to make rules to ban most cigarette self-service displays and vending machines. For prospective rules regarding advertising and promotion, any misleading content which incents possible smoking will be prohibited (Appendix 1). The government should adopt some measure to reduce tobacco industry and impose new responsibilities on the manufacturers, distributors and retailers. A presentation of photo ID’s will help cigarette seller recognize clearly minors who is not allowed purchase cigarettes.
The social responsibilities should be increased among tobacco industry. Firstly, the necessary technological innovations should be developed to reduce the risks of smoking. It is a wrongdoing for some tobacco companies to testify that the ingredients do not cause harm directly to person’s health. Alternatively, the companies should focus on investing invention of safer cigarette with low average tar and nicotine to ensure that they do not increases the inherent risks associated with cigarette smoking. Secondly, full-color pictures-based warnings can be covered half of the front and back of each package of cigarettes, an alert sign of ‘please do not smoking in the face of child and pregnancy’ will be much significant to be shown besides the words of ‘smoking is harmful to your health’. Furthermore, the contribution of investing government to educate no smoking and assisting smokers to quit cigarette will be appreciable.
Smokers should aware that cigarette is dangerous for health and avoid smoking in the public area. It is not government’s duty to prevent people from themselves, otherwise it will infringe their freedom. Smokers who do not want to quit should select the places where they can enjoy smoking without bothering others especially for pregnancy, patient, child and old person. To be sure of avoid nonsmokers exposure to high concentrations of secondhand smoke may build relative ethical and peaceful public environment without resorting to smoking bans. In addition, smokers have responsibilities to educate young children the risks of cigarette and keeping away from smoking.
There are a plenty of smoking propagandas actions around world in many years. The World Health Organization (WHO) advocated all the countries in the world especial its members to banning or restricting tobacco advertising in five years to reduce number of smokers. Therefore, it is not most important what WHO or tobacco company should do, but the key is handhold in the customers who cannot give up smoking and dependence of governments’ revenues from levying cigarette tax.
It is undoubted that there are so many reasons why we reject tobacco industry for safeguarding human health and environment. Despite the strong opposition from the scientific area with legal, public relations, and political strategies, the tobacco companies has got great success in protecting its profits, regardless overwhelming scientific and medical evidence that tobacco products kill and disable hundreds of thousands of smokers and nonsmokers every year.
In this project, we illustrate the advantage and disadvantage of Philip Morris Tobacco Company. For these disputable issues, all compliances accuse to companies operations is unfair. We firmly believe that individual have a fundamental right which concerns choosing to smoke even though they are fully aware of the risks of smoking. Moreover, whatever our view on smoking, we can not get partial information instead of whole picture of the cigarette issue. Banning tobacco production or smoking behaviors does not mean that it’s ethical for the perspective of whole society.
However, for balance of the kittle issue, there are two approaches should be done. Firstly, for the smokers, they should improve their consciousnesses. Try their best to avoid smoking in public circumstance especially facing children and pregnancy. Secondly, for the tobacco companies, not only ameliorate ingredients of cigarette or reduce harm of the products, but also devote to social weal that means sharing information and providing materials to parents, educators, retailers who sell tobacco products, and other groups interested in discouraging smoking.
1. The Food and Drug Administration is seeking to prohibit any advertising not specifically authorized, brand-name event sponsorships, free product distribution, use of brand names on non-tobacco products (such as lighters), use of non-tobacco brand names on tobacco products, advertising in publications with more than 15 percent (or more than two million) of their readers under 18, and outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of playgrounds or schools. (Demon Tobacco, www.nationalcenter.org/polanal.htm)