Free Essay About Free Trade Capitalism
The concept of free market means that all the business houses and industries should have equal freedom to business and they should not be specifically targeted by political or other means. However, it is seen that some industries and products are specifically targeted by trade groups, media, political houses, courts and environmentalists. For example, industries like tobacco, alcohol and casinos often get hammered by the policy makers. These are strange times. On one hand, more regulations are coming in to curb cigarette and alcohol advertising (Quinn, Mujtaba, and Cavico, 2011). On the other hand, some states like Colorado are legalizing addictive materials like marijuana.
Tobacco is the most debated and controversial industry of our generation. It has seen phenomenal growth during the 1950s through its “Marlboro Man” advertising campaign. Subsequently, the industry was barred to advertise its product in television and radio from 1971 onwards in the United States (Andre and Velasquez, 2014). However, the tobacco industry continues to be one of the highest spenders in terms of advertising through magazines, billboards and newspapers. It is a well-known fact that every year at least 350,000 people die of lung cancer developed due to smoking of cigarettes (Quinn, Mujtaba, and Cavico, 2011). Smoking also causes 18 other types of cancers (Andre and Velasquez, 2014). It is unethical to do tobacco advertising or selling, especially to consumers unaware of the full consequences of smoking. In recent years, tobacco advertising is more targeted to the school campuses. Scores of teenagers are taking to the habit of smoking every year without realizing its long term effects. It is ethical to market or sell something when the consumer is fully aware of the consequences and when the advertisement tells the whole truth. Tobacco is a highly addictive product. Every year about 90% of the attempts to quit tobacco fail (Quinn, Mujtaba, and Cavico, 2011). Therefore, a smoker even upon knowing its ill effects is unable to quit smoking as the product impairs his rational thinking process. It is ethical to sell products in a free market till the time it is not causing harm to the greater community and when consumers can take a well-informed and rational decision. In the case of tobacco, neither is possible. It causes serious health hazards. Due to nicotine addiction, consumers are unable to quit smoking even if they know they are smoking poison. Therefore, tobacco advertising is unethical.
We all know about the bad effects of tobacco for a long time. However, unlike cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, tobacco is not a banned product. This is primarily because of the capitalism and corporate culture. Tobacco is a big industry, and a large part of the profit made by the tobacco companies goes into the funding of different political parties campaigns (Quinn, Mujtaba, and Cavico, 2011). Therefore, even after knowing the bad effects of the product, political inaction has kept the industry running and growing.
Looking at the problem from the perspective of tobacco companies, desperation can be seen. Tobacco companies seek to maximize their profits by selling tobacco products. In this case tobacco companies know that the product they are selling is harmful, but they have no other option other than selling it. If they think ethically, then they will go out of business as they will have to stop selling the product. These companies have two options to choose from; either to sell their products by telling half-truth to the customers or wrapping up their business (Quinn, Mujtaba, and Cavico, 2011). In some industries, a compromise is possible when the company’s best interest as well as the interests of the consumers can be achieved through some action taken by the company selling the product or by the consumers purchasing the product. In the case of tobacco, it is not possible as the product in any form, size or variation is injurious to health (Andre and Velasquez, 2014). Therefore, if the tobacco industry continues to exist, customers will suffer the consequences, and the companies will make the profit.
Quinn, M. J.; Mujtaba, B. G. and Cavico, F. J. (2011). Global Tobacco Sales Dilemmas: The Clash of Freedom and Markets with Morality and Ethics. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly. 2(2), 107-124. Retrieved on 30th January 2015 from <http://jbsq.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/March-2011-8D.pdf>
Andre, Claire and Velasquez, Manuel. (2014). The Morality of Marketing the Marlboro Man. Santa Clara University. Retrieved on 30th January 2015 from <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v1n4/marlboro.html>
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