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Tobacco & Third World Countries

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This case deals with the ethical dilemma that Tobacco manufactures face when selling tobacco products in third world countries. First, there is the ethical dilemma of business versus health. The opening and development of the tobacco business in Third World countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Africa, is considered against the health consequences of tobacco use which according to an Oxford University epidemiologist, has estimated to cost 3 million lives annually rising to 10 million by 2050 without effective tobacco control program A second ethical dilemma is employment versus impoverishment, where the opportunities for work in the tobacco industry are considered against a background of malnutrition. This is a problem that is certainly worth consideration, but with those who have the power to change things reaping huge profits, I am not sure if anything will be done.

1. Use the model in Exhibit 1 as a guide and assess the ethical and social responsibility implications of the situation described

Exhibit 1 is a decision tree. A model for incorporating ethical and social responsibility issues into multinational business decisions. The decisions are decided by the users’ responses to a number of relevant questions regarding the matter at hand. The first question the model asks is whether the decision efficiently optimizes the common good or benefits of the business firm, society, the economy, and the individual. From the tobacco business standpoint, the answer is yes it does. They are making huge profits my doing business in the Third World international markets. Next the economy benefits because Third World government often profit from tobacco sales. Brazil collects 75 percent of the retail price of cigarettes in taxes, over $100 million per month. As far as the society is concerned, one could argue yes to this point as well. The people living in these Third World countries are not living in the best of conditions. Our US tobacco manufactures offer them a small escape from their world to our more affluent western world by smoking our products. This is questionable because the idea of tobacco benefiting any society is one that is man made, in that the idea is spawned through aggressive advertising and promotions. You ask the people who live in these societies they most all agree, being like their friends in the west no matter how brief is like heaven. Lastly, when considering the individual there are two perspectives to consider, the individual form his/her perspective and the individual from our (western) perspective. The individual viewed from there own perspective most certainly votes yes to the question. They do feel as thought they have the freedom of choice and feel very good about the benefits that the tobacco industry gives them; a taste of the good life if you will, while more importantly providing the regions with long sustainable employment. On the other hand, we westerns, see these issues much different. Smoking is viewed as a luxury here. We would like to think that if our country was suffering a malnutrition epidemic, that the tobacco products would be the first to go. From a western point of view we would vote no, because these people are dying from a product that they don’t need. The Tobacco industry is making huge profits at the expense of the people of Third World countries.

After having determined that the decision optimizes the common good of all involved, we are now faced with the question of rights. Does the decision respect the right of the individuals involved? The answer here is a definite yes. The people have to right to make the best decision for them. It is hard to cast a judgment on a corporation that provides the tools for our many vices here in the states. Does the corporation decision respect the canons of justice or fairness to all parties involved? The answer to this question is no. The fact the tobacco industry in general, has misled the public on the addictive qualities of cigarettes. For years the industry has with held information on the health risk involved with smoking. So the tobacco companies have not been fair to their consumers, especially in the international markets, where the standards are much lower. Are there critical factors that justify the violation of a canon of justice? There are no critical factors that would justify the tobacco industry to mislead and take advantage of the disadvantaged people who live in third world countries. Reject the decision. I do believe adults should have the right to make informed choices about the risks



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