CSR in the Tobacco Industry

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The tobacco industry (TI) has long been under scrutiny by the public for their unethical image. It is widely known by the public that the product the TI is manufacturing, being cigarettes, kills. According to the University of South Australia, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is concerned with the commitment by corporate entities to act ethically and to give back to society. Over time the TI has attempted to use CSR strategies in an attempt to bridge the gap between society and themselves. Prevention programmes for youth smoking, awareness for second hand smoking and the attempt to reduce child labour in tobacco farming are some of the initiatives the TI has made in order to bridge the gap. A framework to evaluate and interpret ethical behaviour has been developed to analyse the conduct of companies or industries. According to Paine et al. (2005), The Global Business Standards Codex has a number of principles, of which are, citizenship, dignity and transparency. These principles can be used as a guide or tool to determine whether the CSR initiatives undertaken by the TI have been successful or not. Through CSR or not, the TI will always have a gap between society and themselves, it is just a matter of how far that gap really is.

Youth smoking prevention programmes have been created in an attempt to diminish the number of teens and adolescents smoking worldwide. Friedman (2009) and Hirschhorn (2004) have highlighted that the TI is only using such tactics of CSR as a shield against the public’s perception. ‘The tobacco industry has used its corporate social responsibility activities as a tool to transform its defensive position on issues such as youth smoking’ (Friedman 2009). Tobacco companies such as Philip Morris in the United States (US) have created policies and programmes that are aimed to stop youth smoking. Such programmes use graphical images which are shown to the youth of how dangerous tobacco can potentially be on the human body. Through such...
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