Essay on Ethics in Business

Submitted By moshek541
Words: 834
Pages: 4

In 2009, the Tobacco Control Act was passed, giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permission to put restrictions and regulations on sales and advertising by tobacco companies. Under this act, packaging and advertising have a color and design limit, sporting and entertainment events may not be sponsored by tobacco products under their brand name, and cigarettes may not be sold in packages of fewer than 20 cigarettes (Overview… Tobacco Control Act). The act also prohibits advertising that is false or misleading, especially naming the cigarettes “light” or “mild,” which may suggest the cigarettes are less harmful (Overview… Tobacco Control Act). These prohibitions are less problematic. The former regulations mentioned clearly do not comply with Kant’s absolute moral rules and the virtue ethics theory. According to Friedman, It is the manager’s responsibility to do whatever is necessary to maximize profits, regardless of the issues in society (Friedman). The fact that tobacco is harmful to people is not the concern of the company, and by limiting its advertising rights, the government is limiting the company’s ability to create more profit via this medium. Kant’s theory states: “Our duty is to follow rules we could accept as universal laws—that is, rules that we would be willing for everyone to follow in all circumstances” (Rachels 158). The restriction on the minimum number of cigarettes that must be in a pack does not coincide with this ethical principle. Other companies can produce as many versions of their products as they see fit, and tobacco companies should be treated with the same freedom. One of the categorical imperatives is that an action is ethical when if it were to be repeated by all of society it would still be fair (Rachels 130). If the government made a law stating that Tropicana could only package their orange juice in the standard one gallon carton or bottle, would that be considered fair by society? This kind of regulation would impact the people who want to buy the smaller bottles, as well as the company, which makes more profit from being able to sell the same product in 10, 15.2, 32, 64, and 96 oz. bottles. This undoubtedly would be protested by society and would not be accepted as a fair law. Because society would not be willing to accept laws limiting package sizes of products such as Tropicana orange juice, the law restricting cigarette packs with fewer than 20 cigarettes cannot be considered an ethical law.
In addition, the virtue ethics theory believes that ethics are based on moral values that are instilled in a person from their given environment, whether that is a family or a community environment. Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, advertising is a protected right (Advertising and the First Amendment). The Constitution is essentially a set of values on which this country bases its laws. These constitutional rights are carried out by this countries government, as well as its citizens. The right to advertise is therefore a nationally accepted value, giving it ethical weight. The limitations on tobacco companies’ rights to advertise are unethical in this sense. Virtue ethics also focuses on the fact that being surrounded by a culture that promotes good values can cultivate the habits of good character that will naturally lead them to…