Unhealthy Products

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Unhealthy Products Research Paper

The company that I have chosen to research is called Altria. It was previously known as Philip Morris Companies. It produces some of the most popular brands of cigarettes, such as Marlboro and Virginia Slims. The company’s roots date back to the 1830’s, and as such it is one of the oldest and most enduring tobacco companies in the whole world. Unhealthy Products Research Paper

Considering that the company is involved with the production and distribution of tobacco products, the biggest ethical dilemma that is associated with its operations is the harm that is exerted on the health of consumers. Tobacco products are legal and all people have a right to choose if they want to smoke. Moreover, most people are well aware of the dangers of tobacco use, both through educational programs and warning labels on cigarette packages. Nonetheless, tobacco companies such as Altria hold a certain degree of ethical responsibility for the products that they sell, even if they are operating entirely under the law. Unhealthy Products Research Paper


One of the greatest issues with tobacco is that it is perceived differently by cultures and communities worldwide. For instance, the majority of developed western nations have gradually been moving away from cigarettes, and have experienced steady declines in consumption rates (Majid, 2018). On the other hand, poorer nations are reported to lag behind in this respect. This is primarily owed to the existence of different lifestyles and cultures, many of which are much more approving of tobacco usage. In the United States there is a general awareness about the harm of cigarettes, which pushes many people to seek alternatives such as vaporizers. Companies such as Astria will often take advantage of these cultural differences in order to gain greater profits. For instance, tobacco companies are more likely to invest heavily in marketing in poorer countries where people are more open towards tobacco products.

Many tobacco companies face automatic prejudice for selling products that are harmful to people. As a company, Astria has seemingly displayed awareness of this fact, and has made multiple efforts to display ethical concerns and efforts when it comes to its products. The company finances many programs and initiatives that are aimed at promoting better health. Moreover, the company strives to associate itself with important values such as philanthropy, compliance, and environmental and social responsibility (Hirschhorn, 2004).

The company has displayed social responsibility in several ways. First, it has decided not to produce flavored cigarettes, which are believed to attract a greater number of young people (“Philip Morris: An Ethical Anomaly”, 2012). Secondly, they invest enormous funds in programs that aim to directly discourage people from smoking. Furthermore, the company has gone to great lengths to donate to various hospitals, health organizations, and charitable causes, as part of its overall recognition that the products it sells are harmful and unethical. Unhealthy Products Research Paper

How a company behaves and operates ultimately depends on its leadership. In this sense, it is crucial for leaders to promote an ethical culture and approach to decision making, especially if they are keen on overseeing a company that behaves ethically. The company’s leadership can direct the marketing department to create advertisements that will appeal solely to adults. Alternatively, company leaders can decide to renounce marketing altogether, and instead use the same budget to promote health and anti-smoking campaigns. Nonetheless, all companies exist with the simple purpose of creating profits for the workers. Therefore, most leaders need to find the right balance between social responsibility on the one hand, and profitable operations on the other.

Astria has undergone many changes throughout its history of existence. Although it has been previously criticized for many of its decisions, it has demonstrated a clear willingness to act in an ethical and responsible manner, setting a clear example for other tobacco companies.

Hirschhorn, N. (2004). Corporate social responsibility and the tobacco industry: hope or hype? Tobacco Control, 13(4), 447–453. https://doi.org/10.1136/tc.2003.006676
Majid, A. (2018). Global smoking rates decline – but most countries could miss targets. The Telegraph. Retrieved from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/31/smoking-declines-around-world-countries-set-miss-targets-report/
Philip Morris: An Ethical Anomaly. (2012). Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://bizgovsoc4.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/philip-morris-an-ethical-anomaly/
Unhealthy Products Research Paper