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A definition of free commerce is the exchange of products and services without restrictions such high tariffs, quotas, or laborious procedures. Free trade-friendly nations have made sure that consumers are free to chose the things they want to buy, while businesses are free to market and set their prices at a profit.
From a practical standpoint, customers want the greatest possible product for their needs. Customers have a plethora of brand options available to them, leaving them with no choice but to buy whatever completely satisfies them. In contrast, Industries on the other hand are doing whatever they can to fetch more consumers and retain them, whether it is by improving their brands or by adjusting the prices.
Obviously, the public does not view all industries as equal. And this is very much ethical. The reason behind this is that the public consists of different kinds of people. People vary in terms of what they eat, their religion and beliefs, their tastes and preferences and also their moral backgrounds. A religious person who does don’t partake in alcohol may not appreciate industries that produce alcoholic drinks. A person who is a Muslim may not view a company that deals with pork positively. This is basically the reason why not all companies are viewed the same way.
The 21st century has seen many people become more aware of the need to live a healthy lifestyle. Consequently, consumers have become stern when it comes to choosing products. Industries, therefore, have an obligation to protect their consumers by producing products that keep their consumer’s health in check.
The tobacco company for instance is obviously unfairly targeted, and for a good reason. Tobacco is detrimental to one’s health owing to the presence of a very addictive substance in it known as nicotine. Nicotine makes it very hard for tobacco users to stop using it and this is an advantage to the industry as the sales will be at a constant high.
Health wise, tobacco is notorious in causing deadly diseases such as strokes, cancer, lung diseases and heart diseases. According to Fraedrich, (Fraedrich, Ferrell and Ferrell, 2013) tobacco use has also been ranked as the highest cause of premature death all over the world specifically because it has over 480 harmful chemicals in it.
As a consumer, the best decision to make would be to avoid tobacco at all cost. Staying healthy and enjoying a healthy lifestyle free of diseases is everybody’s dream. A consumer choosing not to buy from a tobacco company cannot be unethical.
For tobacco companies, it is extremely difficult to cater for both its interest and that of the public. The company’s goal is to make as much profit as possible and this is through making more sales. In an attempt to make more sales, more people will be addicted to tobacco and their health will be at risk.
Capitalism which is an economic system where people own the economy and are at a liberty to make decisions as per their own interest influences corporate decision making in a great way. Manufacturers and business can produce goods and services and keep the profits. Tobacco companies thrive best in economic systems where capitalism influence corporate decision making. They only need to put a disclaimer on their product stating clearly that tobacco is harmful to one’s health. With that done, they can produce their goods and make profits.
Ethically, tobacco companies should have the interests of the people at heart. The Kantian principle dictates that it is unethical to treat other people as ends and not as means to achieve a goal (Wallace and Kohatsu, 2008). Tobacco companies can achieve this by investing in other ways to make tobacco less hazardous. By doing this, both the consumer and the manufacturer will have attained the ethical mark as per the Kantian principle.
Fraedrich, J., Ferrell, O. and Ferrell, L. (2013). Ethical decision making for business. Mason, Ohio: South-Western.
Wallace, R. and Kohatsu, N. (2008). Wallace/Maxcy-Rosenau-Last public health & preventive medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
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