Major tobacco firms in Malaysia have begun investing aggressively Corporate Social Responsibility activities to build a positive public image and brand activities via large contributions into social programs nationwide, and to be recognised as contributors to the greater common good. Although CSR is considered as a corporate entity along standards of business ethics, tobacco industry philanthropic activities encounter much criticism and threat of a comprehensive ban on CSR atop present legislations for Tobacco Advertising, Promotion & Sponsorship worldwide. Many concerns have been raised over the practice; alleging that the motives behind tobacco industry CSR are to manipulate public perception of responsible marketing practices and gain favourable position for the individual firms in Malaysia.
2.0 CSR AND ITS STRATEGIC ADVANTAGES
Holme and Watts define CSR as an ongoing pledge by corporations to conduct themselves in an ethical manner and contribute to economic growth while developing the quality of workforce livelihood and their families, and the overall local community and societies. CSR programs were developed to answer public urges for corporations to advocate ethical, environmental, health and labour regulations.
The Sustainability Entrepreneurship Model by Young and Tilley, as shown in Appendix I, comprises of six decisive factors: eco-efficiency, socio-efficiency, eco-effectiveness, socio-effectiveness and sufficiency and ecological equity; for corporate sustainability which adds to the business’s social responsibilities and enhances its effectiveness, bringing higher cost savings and better profit margins. 88% of consumers said they were more likely to purchase from companies that engages in initiatives to develop society.
3.0 TOBACCO INDUSTRY AND TOBACCO USE IN MALAYSIA
Malaysia is a major cigarette-manufacturing showpiece for tobacco transnational corporations operating in the South East Asian region. Among 92 sectors, the tobacco industry ranks 5th with an economic output totaling to RM11.7 billion or 3% of Malaysia’s GDP. The tobacco industry in Malaysia comprises of large corporations such as British American Tobacco, market share 68%; Japan Tobacco Inc., 17.7%; and Philip Morris International, 15.3%.
The industry considers itself a vital contributor in developing Malaysia’s socio-economic condition of the rural population.
Tobacco is Malaysia’s most largely cultivated non-food crop, with 12,148 hectares and 1,200 hectares of land solely for tobacco cultivation in Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia respectively. The industry’s activities range from tobacco leaf cultivation and curing, tobacco production to marketing and distribution. Records show that more than 190,000 people are employed in the industry, and 120,000 people involved in tobacco farming and curing.
Smoking statistics show that 10,000 Malaysians succumb to smoking-related ailments annually, making it the top killers in the country since the 1980s. According to Global Adult Tobacco Survey based in Malaysia, 23.1% or 4.75 million adults currently smoke, 43.9% (4.64 million) being men and 1.0% (0.10 million) women. The study also suggested that the expenditure on manufactures cigarettes cover 3.5% of the GDP in 2011, its data showing present smokers using an average of RM 178.80 monthly on manufactured cigarettes.
PRACTICE OF TOBACCO INDUSTRY CSR IN MALAYSIA
The industry engages CSR in various methods to achieve maximum public exposure and influence. The common approach of tobacco industry CSR is corporate philanthropy in which the firms provide monetary aids in areas such as culture and arts, education, shelter, social welfare and the environment. In addition, they offer support to government policies and sponsorship of events such as youth smoking prevention programs.
Several firms have even established charitable foundations to fund their initiatives, such as the...