The public does not view all industries as equal in the free trade market. I believe it is ethical to consider industries as unequal parties in trade. I base my argument on the fact that some industries produce products that are harmful to the consumers. The harm is caused if there is excessive usage of these products. The tobacco industry is an example of an industry that produces products that are harmful to human beings. Companies in the tobacco industry focus on the production and sale of tobacco cigarettes. There are many people who smoke tobacco cigarettes all over the world despite knowing the harmful effects of tobacco. Tobacco has been known to kill many people on a global scale (WHO, 2008). Death caused by tobacco is unnecessary, and can be prevented.
I don’t believe that some industries are unfairly targeted. Industries have a focus on profit maximization, but this should not come at the expense of the consumer’s life. The industries that are targeted are those that produce harmful products, or provide services that are addictive. Alcohol industries produce alcoholic drinks that can lead to addiction. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to serious health problems, and cause fatal road accidents if the driver is intoxicated. Casinos make people addicted to gambling, and can lead to heavy losses of wealth.
Looking at the tobacco industry, I advocate for the safety of the consumers. Tobacco is known to cause diseases that affect the lungs, the heart, and the liver of tobacco smokers. Tobacco exposes the consumer towards the risk of getting heart attacks; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); cancer; and strokes (WHO, 2008). It can also cause hypertension and peripheral vascular disease. These harmful effects of smoking tobacco depend on the quantity consumed by the consumer, as well as the number of years the consumer has been smoking the tobacco. Tobacco cigarettes that contain high levels of tar are known to increase the risk of contracting the harmful diseases. The cigarettes that are sold to developing and underdeveloped countries are known to contain high contents of tar. People who smoke tobacco indirectly as a result of being around tobacco smokers are also known to experience adverse effects despite their age (HHS, 2015).
The tobacco companies are capitalistic, and are more focused on making profit rather than the welfare of the consumers. The government intervenes by making it a requirement that these companies display a health warning on their packages. The problem with tobacco is that it contains nicotine which is highly addictive (HHS, 2015). The consumers end up buying the cigarettes despite reading the health warning on the package. The companies make decisions that are focused on maximizing profits. Such companies are even allowed to make product advertisements on media in some countries.
I believe that it is not possible for a company to cater for both its best interest and the interests of the consumers. The tobacco companies know the harmful effects that tobacco can cause to the consumers, yet they still produce the tobacco cigarettes. Their best interest is to make profits while the best interests of the consumers is to have great health. The interest of the tobacco company will prevail over the interest of the consumers. The company adopts the utilitarianism theory where it seeks to improve its own economic well-being. From the company’s perspective, pleasure is derived if it makes profits. The company also focuses on the fact that the tobacco smokers derive pleasure when they smoke the cigarettes. Kantian ethics look at the supply of tobacco cigarettes to the consumers as unethical due to the harmful effects associated with the product. Kantian ethics looks at the universal effect of the tobacco cigarettes to both the company and the consumers. Virtue ethics looks at the moral character of the company. According to virtue ethics, it is unethical to supply the consumers with products that have harmful effects which may lead to their death.
WHO, (2008). WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic. Geneva: WHO.
HHS, (2015). Health Effects. US Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from: http://betobaccofree.hhs.gov/health-effects/index.html