While struggling to choose a company to analyze for this paper, I decided to take a short cigarette break to clear my thoughts before making my final decision. As I was sitting outside my mod, thinking about potential companies, I looked down at my cigarette and immediately thought about the fact that even choosing to work for a tobacco company can be considered ethically wrong. After my short break, I did some research on tobacco companies and eventually decided to focus on Philip Morris, one of the most successful but reviled corporations in America.
In the US, more than 400,000 people die annually from smoking-related diseases. Because of this, Philip Morris employees are constantly faced with the same question at one point or another: “How can you work for a company that kills people?” This question can be answered in so many different ways and made me think about all the reasons for why Philip Morris employees made the decision they did. The main reason that comes to mind is $$$. However, after doing some research, I found that contrary to popular belief, there is actually a good side to Philip Morris. Philip Morris works so hard to make up for their unethical practices by doing good deeds for society. They are actually considered one of the world’s most generous corporations. For example, they spent about $100 million on a campaign to persuade kids not to smoke. In addition, they paid nearly $8.5 billion over the course of a year to reimburse states for the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses. On top of all that, they annually contribute about $60 million in cash and $15 million in food to fight hunger and domestic violence and to support the arts.
In my opinion, (sorry to all those anti-smokers out there) Philip Morris is a successful company that has found a great way to make a lot of money. Cigarettes are lawful products that any adult should have the right to buy. Every person has the freedom to choose whether or not they get into smoking. I believe it’s quite similar to buying a handgun, drinking a martini, or even eating a big mac. However, my own opinion does not reflect that of society as many people today are trying to find ways of getting rid of cigarettes completely. Many companies are spending a lot of money on campaigns to attempt to put corporations like Philip Morris out of business.
Because it’s so controversial, I thought it would be a great idea to analyze Philip Morris in general to find out whether they should be considered ethical or unethical using the different views that we learned in class such as consequentialism and deontology. I think it will be interesting to investigate both the good and the bad sides of this largely hated company.
Please let me know what you guys think and whether I should focus on the company as a whole or one situation/ethical dilemma they were faced with at some point.
Some sources I have used so far: