Corporate Responsibility of tobacco advertising

In this essay, I will examine the ethical arguments concerning the banning of tobacco advertising as well as an evaluation of the social, economic and political pressures tobacco organisations face . In particular, I will explore the ethics of the partial bans on tobacco advertising, since there are now few countries which do not restrict tobacco advertising in some way. Nisberg (1988) defines business ethics as "a set of principles that guides business practices to reflect a concern for society as a whole while pursuing profits".

This definition suggests that businesses must conform or behave to a set of regulations whilst ensuring their financial interests of stakeholders. Beauchamp (1980) divides major philosophical trends in ethics into two sub-categories, the utilitarian and deontological approach. A utilitarian approach suggests that ethical philosophies are closely related to the subsequent consequences of any given action, the moral worth of an action is determined by it's outcome. In relation to the advertisement of tobacco, it's a harmful and addictive substance which causes many deaths so how is increasing the sales of them moral.

The most common argument concerned with tobacco advertisement banning is to stop non smokers, young people and children from starting the habit. (Townsend 2000, Cornwell and Maignan 1998, Johnson 2000). Advertising to increase sales, look after customers and protect profits is no different to the tobacco industry. Where laws forbid the sale of tobacco products to children, it is because children are said to be below an age where their informed consent can be assumed. It is, therefore, reasoned that tobacco advertising appeals directed at them .

The image reaches right out to children who in take advertisement like adults also receive the information this in some cases links the child to smoking and will see them take at the habit being under age. http://www. ethicapublishing. com states "Wayne McLaren started smoking cigarettes in his early teens because "it seemed to be the thing to do, a rite of passage to adulthood. " . On the other hand specialist would once argue that smoking was good for health. Sibbald (1999) suggests that smoking was once viewed as a medicinal drug and may still be viewed this way in lesser developed countries.

This would mean that advertising to children could be seen as very acceptable in lesser developed countries. http://www. vatican. va states: "In today's society, advertising has a profound impact on how people understand life, the world and themselves, especially in regard to their values and their ways of choosing and behaving. " The "behaving" part which will apply to the younger generation when socialising in public some will be insecure and see smoking as a cool habit. http://www. cyh.

com states: "People who smoke out of habit find they smoke more at certain times or in certain situations. This includes smoking when they are talking on the phone, after eating, with coffee, with alcohol, or when sitting around with friends. These people automatically smoke when they are doing certain things, without really being aware of any real 'craving' for a cigarette" this being the most popular scene in tobacco advertisements. From a utilitarian or consequential perspective tobacco advertising to young non smokers is not ethical.

This is happens because people want to be accepted in society so more people take up smoking as a casual habit and then get addicted causing health issues. This suggests that the outcome from tobacco advertisement are possibly not as substantial as Hastings and Aitkens (1995) claims. This suggests that from a utilitarian approach the consequences of tobacco advertisement may not recruit new smokers but actually convert existing smokers to choose quality brands over cheaper alternatives. This may point toward tobacco advertising as being ethical as it encourages existing smokers to choose quality products.

A deontological approach (depending upon the values of the individual) is conflicted, it may view smoking as wrong but not wish to silence the tobacco company's freedom of speech. Cavalier (2002) defines this as 'a normative ethical theory that places the locus of right and wrong solely on the consequences of choosing one action/policy over other actions/policies. As such, it moves beyond the scope of one's own interests and takes into account the interests of others". This suggests that management may justify a decision as ethical if the net positives are greater than net negatives.

Meaning that decisions may be justified as ethical if they illicit the largest demographic to be happy with the decision even if lethal. Opposing this Nantel & Weeks (1996) suggest a deontological ethics (largely based upon works of Emmanuel Kant) which considers the manner to which an act is performed as opposed to the consequences of it. This approach is much more closely affiliated with values, where no reprehensible actions can be considered ethical regardless of potential positive outcomes.

Therefore an action is either ethical or unethical regardless of the percentage of the demographic are satisfied with the outcome. A perfect illustration of deontological ethics would be to state that Robin Hoods 'rob the rich to feed the poor' would not be considered ethical as from a deontological perspective stealing is always unethical regardless of motivation. A deontological perspective would also take into account the tobacco organisations freedom of speech. To take away this freedom can be considered unethical depending upon the virtues of the individual.

One study into tobacco advertisement suggested only '42 per cent supported banning the tobacco industry's use of sport sponsorship to promote their products' (McDaniel & Mason. , 1999). This suggests that the decision was taken to ban tobacco advertisement was based along a deontological ethics system. Being as the majority of the sample were not opposed to banning advertisement to support a utilitarian approach (though it must be recognised that the sample were of 1007 US adults which may not represent cultural differences of virtues or be a significant sized sample to gain any genuine statistical significance).

Petrick & Quinn (1997) further expand upon business ethics philosophies, proposing that ethical theories can be plotted within a map with ideas being placed within 4 philosophical approaches. With Virtue ethics and ethical learning regarded as individual processes supplementing the fixed or institutional ethical views of deontological or teleological (utilitarian) ethical views.

Dworkin (1977) defines the two elements of the horizontal axis, Policy is defined as an approach that sets a goal to be reached, generally towards economic, political or social improvements. Where as principal in contrast may not advance economic, political or social situations but is a requirement for fairness, justice or some other dimension of morality (Fisher & Lovell. , 2006). Subsequently ethical theories to the left of the map fall into the deontological classification, where as utilitarian fall to the right.

However Petrick & Quins (1997) model possesses 2 further dimensions along a vertical axis. The individual processes at the top of the axis focuses on an individual's responsibility as themselves or within a group to acquire ethical judgement or self knowledge. Therefore ethical decision making is not fixed, but open to interpretation by an individual. Conversely the lower half of the axis possesses are fixed, and independent to individual decision making, however still govern our principals and ethical decision making.