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Alcohol Industry and Business Ethics Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Jun 14th, 2020


One of the most significant challenges to ethical conduct in many industries is the controversy associated with some of these spheres. For instance, alcohol industry can be regarded as the one that poses numerous threats to the public health and as any other business that offers products that can be potentially harmful if misused. Yoon and Lam (2013) note that alcohol companies should be strictly regulated, and corporate social responsibility standards should be imposed. Grant (2013) emphasizes that many businesses are tempted to use various marketing strategies aimed at the most vulnerable groups of customers. At the same time, Crane and Matten (2010) state that alcohol companies can be ethical citizens as they use numerous methods to make people aware of the harm associated with the use of alcohol.

Is It Ethical?

Of course, it may seem a simple issue to solve as it is only necessary to understand whether producing and selling alcohol is ethical. On the one hand, alcohol is any other product that can have advantages and disadvantages. One of its major attributes valued by customers is the atmosphere associated with the use of alcohol. The product is associated with fun and pleasure, relaxation and new experiences. At the same time, the potential harm involves an array of health problems.

However, it is possible to note that all products can be potentially dangerous. Even the laptops used to complete academic and scientific papers on the use of alcohol negatively affect scientists and researchers. Milk, which is seen as one of the healthiest products, is dangerous to people allergic to it. Of course, drinking gallons of milk each day will not make a person healthier but will cause certain health issues. The harm of alcohol is much more significant than that of other products. Some may think that nothing else but the ban can be a good solution.

What Can Be Done?

The ban has been regarded as a way to solve many issues, but it has become clear that it is not the case with alcohol. The ban will lead (as it used to lead) to uncontrolled production and sales of low-quality products that resulted in various hazards to the public health (including poisonings) (Orley, 2005). Therefore, it is clear that trying to prevent people from using this product in such a way will inevitably fail.

Many alcohol companies have used various strategies to become (or seem) an ethical citizen. Babor (2009) states that many companies invest in research on the harm of alcohol, people’s behavior, particular effects. However, many companies also invest into research to get tax reduction or initiate the public discussion of little harm of their products. Some companies are committed to being responsible. For example, Drinkaware Trust and the Portman Group developed an advertising campaign where the harm of irresponsible use of alcohol is displayed (Crane & Matten, 2010). Rich and Riley (2015) claim that companies can and even should provide information on precautions and best ways to consume the product (for example, after a substantial meal).


On balance it is possible to note that many steps undertaken show that alcohol industry is becoming more responsible and tries to share the responsibility. However, the consumer is the one who makes decisions. Of course, alcohol companies should provide extensive information and avoid using unethical marketing strategies.


Babor, T.F. (2009). Alcohol research and the alcoholic beverage industry: Issues, concerns and conflicts of interest. Addiction, 104(1), 34-47.

Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2010). Business ethics: Managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. New York, NY: OUP Oxford.

Grant, M. (2013). Alcohol and emerging markets: Patterns, problems, and responses. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge.

Orley, J. (2005). Corporate social responsibility in practice within the beverage alcohol industry. In M. Grant & J. O’Connor (Eds.), Corporate social responsibility and alcohol: The need and potential for partnership (pp. 103-115). New York, NY: Routledge.

Rich, S.D., & Riley, L.J. (2015). Neurodevelopmental disorder associated with prenatal alcohol exposure: Consumer protection and the industry’s duty to warn. In M. Nelson & M. Trussler (Eds.), Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in adults: Ethical and legal perspectives: An overview on FASD for professionals (pp. 39-49). New York, NY: Springer.

Yoon, S., & Lam, T.H. (2013). BMC Public Health, 13(1). Web.

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