Free Essay About The Tobacco Industry Has A Shared Value Responsibility To Refrain From Employing Children Below 18 Years Of Age.
The federal government labor laws are relaxed on the minimum age that a child qualifies for employment in the farm and the industrial sector. Underlining the minimum age at 12 years, the Tobacco industry seized the opportunity to enroll children in the company with intent to reduce operation costs. While the major company’s objective is to undertake operation activities using low-costs capital and labor inputs with a focus on maximizing profit and boosting shareholders returns, most companies have always shunned the corporate social responsibility claiming that the practice exceeds the mandate maximizes profits. Children between the age of 12 and 16 years working in the industry are susceptible to lung infections, breathing complications and other hazardous implications associated with working environment. Consequently, the affected society portrays a dark future since the children population would be physically inactive due to health complications such as the Green Tobacco Sickness (Dresler and Marks 623). Similarly, the paid wages to the children would be channeled to pay hospital bills and purchase drugs.
Reflecting from the scenario invokes the social dilemma; of what benefit would it have to the society when the child labor force culminates to health complications and an inactive labor force in the ensuing years? Further, does the unethical practice by the tobacco firms demonstrate a disconnection from the corporate citizenship? Weighing on the positive and negative influence of under-age employment, it would be logic to concur that the federal labor laws are incoherent with the connection between corporate social responsibility on employees and the community welfare. Therefore, the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina effort to raise child labor age to 16 years is a rational corporate citizenship towards safeguarding the prosperity of the population (Human Rights Watch par.2)
Corporate social responsibility is a conspicuous approach to an organization that performs its activities while complying with ethical principles, employees’ social welfare, and external stakeholders such as the suppliers and the stakeholders’ community (Porter, and Kramer 6). In an economic perspective, a firm’s major objective is to maximize shareholder’s returns and consumer satisfaction. However, corporate citizenship forms the foundation for a company’s sustainability. Employee’s welfare is a core ingredient of improved productivity and continued innovation in a firm. Employees have a right to fair wages, enabling working environment and the freedom to express their views in relation to the organizations working culture. In a triple bottom approach, a company bears the responsibility to safeguard the interest of the surrounding community by creating employment opportunities for the locals and participating in community-based activities that promote cohesion and sustainable livelihood for the community.
For that reason, corporate social action advocates for appropriate age at which an individual qualifies for employment. Employing under-age children in the tobacco industry subjects the children to exploitation by employers where wage discrimination at their expense prevails. The action contravenes the corporate citizenship responsibility to foster fair wages for employees. In another perspective, firms engage in social responsibility by educating the community about their rights and promoting the livelihoods of low-income earners. However, the practice of employing children in the tobacco industry erodes the firm’s corporate citizenship since the improved household income would be channeled towards catering the children deteriorating health due to tobacco-related health complications. The overall impact of underage employment to the companies is a marginal decline in the eligible workforce and reduced demand for products and services.
Ethically, the society expects companies to obey the stipulated rules such as the labor laws and shield the stakeholders’ interests from hazardous social and economic factors. On the other hand, it is a compulsory social responsibility under the guidance of the law to act within the local and regional and international laws pertaining to the firm’s working environment. Despite the United States relaxed provision for children minimum age for employment, the tobacco industry has an ethical obligation to refrain from employing children under the age of 18 years. (New York Times par.4).
Tobacco health complications either directly or indirectly have raised alarm in the recent years across the globe as many people especially the middle-aged group contract lung infections caused by tobacco inhalation. The global statistics project that the number of deaths from tobacco infections would raise to 10 million in an anticipated period of ten years- a figure that includes direct consumption and inhalation (Dresler and Marks 605). Children at the ages of 12 and 16 years have an inconsistent immune system thus most children employees in the tobacco industry would fall victim to lung infections and other contractions that could cause loss of lives or high long-term subjection to medication. Conversely, health deterioration of children in a household eats up on the family’s savings and consumption income hence aggravating the poverty level in the society. The scenario manifest an unfortunate reverse incident where children’s and parents earned wages result in paying hospital bills and taking care of the ailing children. Revisiting, our previous dilemma, child labor enrollment in the tobacco industry reverse the previous economic gains influenced by the industries social responsibility in the economy.
Alternatively, the children’s continuous inhalation of tobacco dust at a tender age forms the basis of child addiction to smoking and abuse of associated substances. The pollutant affects the victim’s weak cells to accustom to the tobacco effluents that culminate in a long term addiction to tobacco consumption. Persistent addiction to the substance among children derails the global efforts by governments and non-government to mitigate mortality rate among the youth due to throat and lung cancer affiliated with smoking. In the ensuing years, the employed children would advance to smoking and further reduce the eligible workforce productivity and fertility rate. Based on the analysis, child labor in the tobacco industry is inclined to long-term economic unsustainability contrary to the ethical guidelines for corporate citizenship.
What about the future of the society that accounts for the possible workforce, as well as the consumers? A rational person with a focus on the ensuing times would pose a similar question. In principle, a firm operates under the going concern concept that is undertaking current activities hopeful of tremendous results in the infinite future and strengthening sustainable advantage. In a triple bottom approach, the society accounts for the sustainable market advantage of a firm by adhering to social –ethical obligations and quality output. Currently, the victims of child labor in the tobacco industry rank low in job productivity and deplorable health such as cancerous infection. Thus, companies would suffer from a deficiency in labor skills and slow market growth. Additionally, the current rise in technology has enlightened the consumers and the workers in understanding the limits of human rights and social welfare hence, individuals hold the information on their deserved rightful treatment by other people as well as expected responsibilities in a particular issue. The rights theory fronts that conscious beings would reciprocate fair treatment from other parties regardless of social or economic ranks.
The economic implication to the tobacco industry is that as people develop rational perceptions on anticipated and expected ethical obligations, the consumers would shun the firm’s products as a silent battle to push for welfare responsibility for the future citizens that would culminate in reduced revenue for the adamant firms. One such company that has realized the negative effect is the British American Tobacco that injected its resources into the Eliminating Child Labor in Tobacco Growing – a foundation mandated to advocate for stringent policies to curb employment of under-age workforce (Otanez, Muggli, Hurtz, and Glantz 225).The future of the coming generation remains held in the tobacco industry’s effort to create a value chain balance among the people, the society, and shareholder’s needs.
It's prime time the federal government and labor organizations took the stand and revoked the labor provisions on child labor and instead entrenched the age of 18 as the minimum requirement for children to qualify as workers in hazardous industries. The current law remains naïve of the children’s risks to tobacco effluents and the dwindling economic sustainability of the society. The working environment in the Tobacco industry is highly risky to the children and therefore demands for a complete overhaul of the employment policies. Child labor contradicts the acclaimed effectiveness of corporate citizenship to the society to the company’s advantage.
In summary, the people factor is an integral aspect in advancing impartial corporate social responsibility for the companies within the stipulated ethical guidelines. The government should rise and heed to the social call for unethical child labor practice. Through public and private party’s engagement as well as policy makers, it would be ethically appropriate to impose hefty fines and criminal penalties for child labor offenders as well as raise the minimum age for child employment at the age of 18 years across all economic sectors.
"A Ban on Child Labor in Tobacco Fields." New York Times (2014): n. pag. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
"US: Tobacco Group Adopts Child Labor Protections | Human Rights Watch." Human Rights Watch | Defending Human Rights Worldwide. Human Rights Watch, 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
Dresler, Carolyn, and Stephen P. Marks. "The emerging human right to tobacco control." Human Rights Quarterly 28.3 (2006): 599-651.
Otanez, M. G., M. E. Muggli, R. D. Hurtz, and S. A. Glantz. "Eliminating child labour in Malawi: a British American Tobacco corporate responsibility project to sidestep tobacco labour exploitation." US National Library of Medicine 15.3 (2006): 224-230. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2564665/. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer. "The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility." Harvard business review 84.12 (2006): 78-92.