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In spite of the public’s concerns, the tobacco industry develops in most high-income countries. This situation provokes a discussion on the ethical nature of a business that offers products that are traditionally considered as potentially harmful for consumers. However, the tobacco industry develops according to the laws of the free trade, and it has the right to participate in the market relations while exchanging the products and material resources with consumers because manufacturers of tobacco products follow the standards regarding the product quality. Furthermore, the potential risks of tobacco products depend on the use, and the presence of the tobacco industry in the market addresses the consumers’ interests regarding the free choice.
Reasons to Support the Tobacco Industry
According to the Utilitarian view, industries should be oriented to promoting the public’s well-being (Shaw, 2013, p. 88). On the one hand, this principle seems to be opposite to the nature of the tobacco industry. However, on the other hand, the tobacco industry directly addresses this requirement while proposing tobacco-users the products of their choice. The manufacturers of tobacco products can be discussed as responsible in relation to following the standards of quality and fair advertising because of the governmental regulations (Deyton, 2011, p. 168). In this case, consumers receive fair information regarding the product and can decide on choosing it without being impacted by an advertisement. Opponents of this idea state that the main criterion to speak about the industry as ethical and sustainable is the product safety (Fox, 2005, p. ii39).
However, the tobacco industry proposes products which safety depends on the use, as it is in the case of the automobile industry or chemical producers. Therefore, the industry that depends on the government’s regulations and addresses the principles of social responsibility while supporting the community’s life can be discussed as responsible.
Role of Capitalism in Corporate Decision-Making
Capitalism plays a key role in different industries’ decision-making processes because capitalism provides the rules for the modern development of the free trade area. In this context, each industry, without focusing on its social image, tends to attract more consumers, sell more products, and receive more revenues. Any negative changes in the balance of demand and supply affect industries dramatically, in spite of their ethical status (Shaw, 2013, p. 128). In this context, the tobacco industry plays according to the rules of capitalism, and corporate decisions are usually influenced by the goals to make more profits (Herington, 2010, p. 14). The tobacco industry is among those industries that are highly limited, and it provides potential consumers with more opportunities to assess the consequences of using the tobacco product.
The Company’s Priorities
The company needs to follow corporate interests until it does not violate the interests of consumers. Thus, it is important for the company to find balance while playing according to the rules of capitalism because both strategies lead to increases in profits. The focus on consumers is important to increase their number, and the focus on the company’s interests is important to improve its competitive advantage (Friedman, 2009, p. 819). In the case of the tobacco company, it mostly serves the business interests, but it also responds to the interests of the target group of consumers.
In order to survive in the context of the free trade economy, even such “unethical” industries as the tobacco industry focus on balancing the corporate and social responsibility in their decision-making process. Thus, these companies pay more attention to choosing the available tools to address the interests of the target audience and business.
Deyton, L. (2011). FDA Tobacco Product Regulations: A powerful tool for tobacco control. Public Health Report, 126(2), 167–169. Web.
Fox, B. (2005). Framing tobacco control efforts within an ethical context. Tobacco Control, 14(1), ii38-ii44. Web.
Friedman, L. (2009). Tobacco industry use of corporate social responsibility tactics as a sword and a shield on secondhand smoke issues. The Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 37(4), 819-827. Web.
Herington, M. (2010). Tobacco regulation in the United States: New opportunities and challenges. Health Lawyer, 23(1), 13–17. Web.
Shaw, W. (2013). Business ethics. New York, NY: Cengage Learning. Web.