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Everyone, including companies have their rights and ethics. However, there are ethical standards that are universally accepted. The ethical standards of the rights depicted in this case vary widely. This is as a result of the way the rights are exercised and the overall outcome on the people. We discuss the rights ethical standards according to the issues arising from Phillip Morris’ case.
Rights Ethical Standards
To start with, the company is entitled to the freedom of speech. However, when a top company representative like William Campbell lies under oath; when he denied the addictive nature of nicotine and manipulation of its levels in cigarettes during production which are matters that the public need to be enlightened about and Waxman revealing the truth of a study he was involved in a long time ago (Stewart and Perske 1996); it clearly shows that the ethical standards of such a right are very low. Clearly, smoking is a major cause of lung cancer as evidenced by the studies conducted over time; but it is the company’s right to question the conclusiveness of the study. This questioning, coupled with claims by Brown and Williamson’s CEO that he doesn’t believe in nicotine being addictive (Alix, 1996) and that cigarette smoking is non-addictive and voluntary as argued by Phillip Morris company may be misleading to the public and it makes the ethics of such a right questionable, (Lauren, 1999).
Addiction is evident in real life cases where quiting smoking even on medical grounds has proved almost impossible. Some smokers end up in rehabs to seek help to drop the vice. However, it is ethical for the company to claim protection by the law; for instance, when the courts of law cleared the company’s name on basis of claim that it had abided by the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. People may have the right to smoke whenever they want as the company claims. If for instance someone decides to smoke in a gathering, he is depriving the others around him of their right to fresh air, (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006).
The virtue theory is mainly concerned with doing what is right not necessarily what is depicted in the law, (Hursthouse, 2010). The company’s activities may not be termed as ethical, according to this theory since the company is acting as per the law but not the socially accepted norms.
Recommendations and conclusion
The government agencies involved in this case should consider both parties’ rights before taking action. To begin with, the American people have a choice they are not forced to smoke they do it voluntarily. Based on this, the company should not be held responsible for any shortcoming in terms of health or any other aspect related to smoking or even alcoholism. Secondly, the government should take charge of educating its people on the dangers associated with smoking and alcoholism. Thirdly, the government should ensure that there is some set standard that should be met in cigarette and alcohol production to curb the nicotine and alcohol contents manipulation.
The packaging should also carry a warning sign on the effect of drinking and smoking on the health of the user. Finally, laws should be made and enforced that govern the sale of tobacco and alcohol to reduce the problem of underage smoking and drinking; and also heavy penalties for drunk drivers and public smokers should be imposed. These will help reduce accidents caused by drunk drivers and the risk of secondary effects of tobacco on non-smokers. This way the people whose livelihoods depend on the companies’ businesses will not be disadvantaged and the users on the other hand will be able to make informed choices.
Alix, Freedman, (1996). Cigarette Defector Says CEO Lied to Congress About View of Nicotine, Wall Street Journal, 26 p. A1. Web.
Hursthouse, Rosalind, (2010) Virtue Ethics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.
Lauren A. Colby, (1999) In Defense of Smokers. Web.
Stewart, L. and Perske, M. (1996). How Henry Waxman Twists the Truth. Human Events, 9 (5). Web.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2006. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Web.