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Tobacco Companies actively market a highly addictive and lethal product, and have done so for many years here in the United States and abroad. Their lack of ethics and social responsibility in the business world are apparent in documentation brought to light during lawsuits against them in recent years. The desire for profit and expansion, rather than a concern for societal health, has dictated big tobacco company operations. These wealthy world powers continue to exercise unethical business practices in their approach to conducting business at a great communal and economic cost to societies worldwide.
Ethics may be defined as a collection of moral principles and values regarding right and wrong that control individual and group behavior. Standards for ethical behavior and decisions arise from those moral principles and values. An individual or group may benefit or harm others in society. Human behavior may be categorized in one of three ways: codified law, free choice, or ethics. Laws enforced by the government provide values and standards society must obey. Free choice exists at the other end of the spectrum and provides complete freedom to pursue self-interests.
No laws restrict free choice behaviors. Ethics occupies the zone between codified law and free choice. Society has shared beliefs and values used to dictate acceptable behavior. Ethical decisions are legally and morally approved by society (Daft, 25). Tobacco companies produce a product for society desire and they make a profit doing so.
They also satisfy legal responsibilities and obey laws although their political influence has frequently slanted the government process in their favor financially. Problems arise for tobacco companies when only law or free choice controls decision-making. Although producing and selling tobacco is legal, the business is not automatically ethical and does not benefit society as a whole. The positive effects of jobs within the tobacco industry are outweighed by the negative social, health, and economic costs to society. Currently, some tobacco companies are exercising discretionary responsibility by voluntary social contributions such as providing food, water, and other supplies to flood victims after recent hurricanes. This is the highest level of social responsibility and goes beyond society's expectations of the company (Daft, 28).
The true motivation is more likely to improve their reputation rather than pure generosity. Legal action against tobacco companies left them with tarnished reputations. The tobacco companies have placed economic gain as the number one goal over social responsibility and have ignored the role of ethics in their business practices. Business has allowed corruption in the workplace. Competition is the essence of business. Winning is more important than how the game is played and the reward for tobacco companies is financial.
Managers understand right and wrong in their personal life, but do not feel it applies to business practice. Generally people make an ethical decision when going to work for a company, then leave the ethical decisions to the company. The society of business rewards performance by obeying rules and performing tasks, not on how performance affects the outside world. As the jobs move further down the line into smaller pieces of the overall puzzle, it is easier to view the relationship between action and effect as less morally and operationally objectionable.
In this way, large corporations serve to insulate individuals from the victims of the companys actions. The empathetic feeling that stimulates the conscience is absent. For workers today, life at work is an important social arena outside of the home (Krone, 16). Ties to the community, extended family, and the political system are weaker compared to past generations. Workers may fear losing their job, and therefore, the desire for acceptance in the workplace encourages them to adopt corporate culture. Tobacco companies display a lack of ethical concern in producing, marketing, and selling tobacco products.
The addictive and harmful effects of cigarettes were already well known by tobacco companies from the 1950 s (Stauber, 1). The need to keep a supply of consumers addicted to nicotine in order to profit led to the development of the public relations industry. Exposing the tobacco companies knowledge and business practices began with a paralegal named Merrell Williams, Jr. He sent copies of a major tobacco companys internal communications from a law firm to Stan Glantz at the University of California at San Francisco who then published The Cigarette Papers. This analysis of what the tobacco companies knew and how they concealed it from the public was also published in the July 1995 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (Gibbs, 2). This proved the tobacco companies lied about their findings.
When possible harmful effects from smoking led to a decline in cigarette sales, tobacco companies hired legendary public relations figures John Hill, Ivy Lee, and Edward Bernays to restore the security of their product in the market. This psychological marketing was first used on women and the children and included third party advocacy, subliminal message reinforcement, junk science, advocacy advertising, phony front groups, and buying favorable advertising and news reports (Stauber, 2). Sales to women increased with the implied message that cigarettes keep you slim from Virginia Slims and slogans such as Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet. To break the taboo that respectable women do not smoke, they produced advertising equating cigarettes with freedom as a symbol of womens liberation.
Deluging society with decades of advertising on TV, in magazines, movies, radio, and billboards identified cigarettes with sex, youth, freedom, and vitality. By opening new markets in foreign countries, the tobacco companies continued to profit despite the bad press. Well-paid, powerful lobbyists prevented attempts to impose serious regulation and taxation by the government. The front group, National Smokers Alliance, created by Burson-Mar stellar Public Relations and Philip Morris, set out to organize tobacco victims in order to protect tobacco profits. This state of the art campaign ran full-page newspaper ads, engaged in direct telemarketing, paid canvassers, and set up a toll free number and newsletters to bring smokers into the group. Paid young activists visited bowling alleys and bars to sign up smokers and encourage them to stand up for smokers rights.
NSA members were encouraged to apply political pressure on politicians with regard to smoking in the workplace. Implying anti-smokers were anti-American pushed a discrimination against smokers freedom and rights, and was effective in uniting the group. Another front group created by PR and Philip Morris in California, nearly succeeded in overturning many restrictions already on the law books. The Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions implied they were for smoking restrictions, but actually favored smokers (Stauber, 3). Anti-smoking groups educated the public about the groups funding source and the tobacco companys smokescreen failed. Politically, tobacco companies wield immense influence through political contributions and well-connected lobbyists (Common Cause, 1).
By delaying or blocking bills, the tobacco industry avoided control by the government for years. Politicians were rewarded financially by tobacco and stood to lose easy camp...
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Research essay sample on Tobacco Companies And Thier Ethics