Social Ethics -- Tobacco Regulation Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :



4. Was it ethical for the tobacco industry to continue to market cigarettes, even after evidence emerged that smoking caused lung cancer and other illnesses?

Purely from a rule utilitarian and personal rights perspective, it is difficult to justify so-called vice legislation, because governmental paternalism conflicts with individual freedoms of adults to make choices for themselves. From a more general functional utilitarianism perspective and general principles of justice in society, certain personal vices require legislation, simply because even their personal use harms society as a whole (Taylor, 1989). For example, tobacco use in public is a direct threat to the health and welfare of others, by virtue of exposure to second-hand smoke. Even more importantly, the aggregate cost in medical expenses ultimately borne by public health systems and insurers depletes public resources.

Ethically, there is no justification for manufacturing a product known to cause as much harm and human suffering as tobacco, when used exactly as intended by its manufacturers. The mere fact that tobacco manufacturers purposely add an ingredient designed to make their product addictive creates an ethical problem much larger than simply providing a product whose use is a matter of choice rather than clinical addiction.

5. Is new tobacco legislation needed? What would be the key elements of such a legislation?

The 1997/98 settlement falls short of what is required for the benefit of public welfare: instead of limiting only advertising through cartoon characters, tobacco should be banned from advertisements depicting its use by human characters as well, and also from any association with professional sports.

Additional legislation should approach smoking as an unnecessary health risk for which non-participants should not have to subsidize the costs incurred by users. Smoking should be ineligible for public medical assistance programs in connection with treatment for smoking-caused illness, and their insurance premiums should reflect their disproportionate impact on health care costs in comparison to non-smokers. In principle, mandatory medical insurance supplements for smokers would be enforceable the same way that many states require mandatory liability insurance for drivers'. The only difference is that liability insurance for drivers is designed to compensate victims of instantaneous physical and economic harms; a smokers' liability insurance premium would be intended to compensate non-smokers and society as a whole from the burden of paying for the long-term consequences of bad choices. Another alternative would be to simply withhold medical funding for smokers, requiring them to be responsible for their own healthcare. In that way, smokers would still enjoy the individual right and freedom to participate in private vices without governmental interference and the rest of society would not be burdened with paying for the medical problems of smokers.

For the same reason that tobacco products are banned from television advertising, they should be prohibited from programming that is not restricted from consumption by minors. The depiction of smoking by characters in movies increases the smoking rates of minors, because they are highly susceptible to suggestion, particularly where smoking is portrayed in connection with role models and public figures.

References

FreePatentsOnline Website. (2007) Process for Treating, Drying and Expanding Tobacco; U.S. Patent No. 4,677,994 (Jul.7/87) Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4677994.html

Lehrer, J. (1998) Online News Hour: The Smoke Clears; Nov. 23/98. Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/july-dec98/tobacco_11-23.html

The New York Times (1997) a Worrisome Tobacco Deal; Jun.21/97. Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F03E1DB103EF932A15755C0A961958260

The State Tobacco Information Center (STIC) (1998) State of Arkansas v. American Tobacco Co., et al. (complaint) (5/5/97)

Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://stic.neu.edu/Ar/COMPLAINT.htm

Taylor, R. (1989) Freedom, Anarchy, and the Law: An Introduction to Political Philosophy.…

Sources Used in Document:

References

FreePatentsOnline Website. (2007) Process for Treating, Drying and Expanding Tobacco; U.S. Patent No. 4,677,994 (Jul.7/87) Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4677994.html

Lehrer, J. (1998) Online News Hour: The Smoke Clears; Nov. 23/98. Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/july-dec98/tobacco_11-23.html

The New York Times (1997) a Worrisome Tobacco Deal; Jun.21/97. Retrieved December 19, 2007, at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F03E1DB103EF932A15755C0A961958260

The State Tobacco Information Center (STIC) (1998) State of Arkansas v. American Tobacco Co., et al. (complaint) (5/5/97)

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