In today’s world there are many moral issues that take place in society as well as in the business world. On Friday, February 4, 2000, the Washington Post printed an article titled “Underage Smoking Fine Sought for Big Tobacco.” Currently and in the past, the tobacco industry has fought many moral issues with the Federal Government and the general public. This particular article written by Charles Babington has two problems, which are, the federal government’s threat to increase taxes and fines on the tobacco industry and the industries practice in their advertising which is targeting underage smokers.
The first problem the article states is that the Federal Government is threatening to raise taxes on cigarettes and issue fines for any underage smoking. Fining underage smoking could be a possible ploy for the government to raise taxes on all tobacco products. By issuing a $3,000 fine for every underage smoker, the government would generate as much as 6 billion dollars a year. In addition to the fines, President Clinton may also propose to put a 25-cent-per-pack increase in the Federal tax on cigarettes.
The moral aspect of this problem is that the federal government is receiving billions off of raising taxes on tobacco products and fines for underage smoking. This money is absorbed into the government and redistributed into society towards other social issues. The excess money the government collects on higher tobacco taxes and fines issued to for underage smoking should be used to educate the general public on how the tobacco companies are providing a dangerous product and can be extremely harmful to the human body. The government also needs to provide a program to help prevent underage smoking in the future.
Another problem that was stated in the article was that the tobacco industry was targeting new underage smokers. The underage smokers were targeted through the advertisements on radio programs, television commercials, and social events that young people attend. The advertisements of cigarettes on TV and radio commercials stopped over 20 years ago and at that time the underage smoking did not stop. It is stated that in November 1998, the tobacco industry agreed once again to set restrictions on how cigarettes may be sold and marketed, barring companies from targeting youth in advertising and using cartoons in promotions (Babington, A07). The cigarettes companies were also prohibited from sponsoring sports teams, stadiums, or events such as NASCAR in which participants are underage. Accompanying this problem is the moral issue that banning advertisements on the radio and TV is not enough to prevent underage smoking. The industry needs to reveal in their advertisements the negative aspect of tobacco products. As stated in “Moral Issues in Business,” “When advertisers conceal facts, they suppress information that is unflattering to their products. That is, they neglect to mention or distract consumers’ attention away from information, knowledge of which would probably make their products less desirable.” (Shaw, Barry 474). Every advertiser wants their advertisement to be very attractive to the consumer. Until underage smoking is controlled, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) needs to continue to regulate the sales of cigarettes more carefully because 90 percent of all smokers get hooked before the age of 21. The FDA’s main focus is to discourage young people from taking up cigarettes in the first place (Shaw, Barry 460).
After analyzing this particular article, I found moral issues that need to be addressed and resolved. My moral values are from a solid foundation involving religion and social customs. It is against the Catholic religion to subject a human body to any harm, especially harm that would result in death. It is proven by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and is responsible for 16% of all deaths nationwide (Shaw, Barry 460). Social customs are that the youth should not be using an adult product. Since there is an age limit on the purchase of cigarettes, any minor violating this rule is committing a crime. If adults don’t enforce the law for underage smoking, they are also guilty of committing a crime.
My moral view of raising taxes and issuing fines on tobacco products is that the money should have an immediate impact on society and used towards the prevention of youth smoking.
The resolution to the moral dilemma in this article is if the government is going to rise taxes on tobacco products, the money received from the taxes should be redistributed to an well-organized anti-tobacco program. This program should include regulatory enforcement form the FDA on the addictive substance, nicotine. The tobacco companies should be responsible for providing a product that does not cause physical addiction.
The fines issued for underage smoking should be directly redistributed into educating the general public and prevention of accessibility to tobacco products. This would include additional law enforcement and administrative costs. Fifty percent of the fines collected should be used towards researching a cure for nicotine addiction.
Resolving the moral issue with advertising tobacco products, tobacco companies should be banned from all public advertisement including all sporting events unless they agree to provide more resources to prevent underage smoking. The current TV commercial advertising today, portrays the tobacco companies as being law abiding and self-regulating companies. These same commercials contain actual teenagers desiring to purchase tobacco products. The purchase of tobacco products is portrayed as an acceptable social behavior to young people.
These solutions are truly moral solutions because it forces the Tobacco Company to redirect funds to address social issue of underage smoking and it also helps reduce the risk of tobacco addiction. In conclusion, if the tobacco industries refuse to voluntarily address the issues with advertisement of tobacco products and does not support the campaign to reduce underage smoking, the government needs to intervene. Prior to this intervention, the government needs to have a well-developed plan to assure the taxes and fines will be distributed directly to the issues of underage smoking.
Babington, Charles. “Underage Smoking Fine Sought for Big Tobacco.”
Washington Post. 4 Feb. 2000. Sec A: Page A06,07
Shaw, William H. and Vincent Barry. Moral Issues in Business. Belmont,
CA: Wadsworth, 1998.