- Sustainability – Focus on the Environment – Going Green: Tobacco companies have invested heavily on programmes that support environmental and social factors to facilitate sustainable development. The need to create environmental awareness has been taken seriously by investors in order to improve the livelihoods of communities. Some people believe that companies in tobacco industry should not be part of these programs due to varied reasons while others think they should be part of it.
- Ethics and Social Responsibility: With high expectations from the employees, managers and consumers of all companies especially the multinational one’s wish to invest beyond the traditional thought of making profits. The tobacco companies have not been left out in this goal. The connection between tobacco industry and corporate responsibility remains a great contradiction, with a number of companies acting unethically. These companies deliver nicotine directly to the community; they enhance addiction in their products with nicotine boosters as well as ammonia so as to increase the smoker’s desire for the products. Despite being involved in such health hazard issues, they take part in social responsibility programmers.
- Responding to Business Challenges Strategically and Operationally: A Number of organizations dealing with health issues have questioned the sincerity of tobacco companies’ involvement in community projects. Many organizations have opposed the idea of Tobacco companies’ participation in such matters. And as a result, these organizations have strategically and operationally designed ways to educate the community on smoking and its consequences. Majority of socially or ethically responsible investment policies are to exclude tobacco companies in their portfolios.
Tobacco smoking is a health threatening habit which affects respiratory system of a smoker. With current advertisements and participation of tobacco companies in community, a great percentage of population is involved in smoking. Tobacco companies have actively sponsored films, music and art festivals that create environmental awareness and promote protection of the environment, in the name of corporate social investment or responsibility (CSR). The companies have programmes geared towards environmental protection like tree planting, clean ups and utilization of biodegradable materials. For example BAT, in the year 2002 contributed $30,000 to the Kwame Nkrumah University towards establishing Research Chair in agro forestry. Health organizations always question the message passed on to the young students when these companies support such programmes. In addition, these companies invest in programmes that discourage smoking amongst the youth.
More over, it is unethical for Tobacco companies to enhance addiction of their products which have nicotine boosters as well as ammonia meant to increase the need and addiction to smokers and at the same time invest publicly to promote ineffective smoking among the youth. This is just a way of improving corporate image, because the programmes never prevent youth from smoking, instead they encourage them. While portraying that smoking is for adults only, they create an appeal for cigarettes amongst young people. This is to mean that, these companies participate in such programmes for the sake of social responsibility, regardless of their unethical practices. Tobacco companies try to gain respect through corporate activities, though they continue to use unethical strategies in promotion of their products.
As a result health organizations have come together to devise ways of educating youths on lethal effects of tobacco smoking. For example World Health Organization (WHO) has produced journals on effects of tobacco in the body of a smoker. Also, tobacco smoking is discussed to discourage the youths from smoking. Hospitals have drawings of body parts affected by tobacco smoking. This is to mean that for as much these companies take part in CSR, their products remain lethal.
With increased awareness on effects of tobacco smoking, the involvement of tobacco producing companies in community activities diversifies. Regardless of the tobacco companies trying to gain respect through corporate activities, they continue to use unethical strategies in promotion of their products. Tobacco smoking causes over 5 million deaths in a year mainly from respiratory diseases and cancer. Still with such evidence, tobacco industry keeps undermining the efforts of the organization to implement tobacco control policy. It is also evident that, tobacco companies have diverted attention from public health issues and lethal effects of tobacco through their generous funding and participation of community projects. World Health Organization seeks to convince the developing world to join hands in implementation of tobacco control policies. Even though many may approve or disapprove steps being taken by World Health Organization, the effects of tobacco smoking continue to be felt today as companies pursue social responsibility.