Social responsibility and the Ban on Smoking
The Coca Cola Company (TCCC) produces more than 500 different types of soft drinks and water products, and sells to more than 5 billion people every day (Lawrence & Weber, 2016). Inevitably, this production rate requires the input of a lot of water, which results in the company’s water consumption rate being pretty high. The impacts of the water utilization by the company had not previously been a source of concern in any location in the world until studies conducted in India showed that the company’s consumption resulted in the depletion of natural water resources. Additionally, various stakeholders in India found out that TCCC’s products also contained a high percentage of pesticide residues. These concerns go contrary to the performance expectations that consumers could have from TCCC, hence their identification as a gap that needed to be closed. In particular, the administration of India’s Kerala area went as far as stopping TCCC’s operations in the area on the argument that the company’s was depleting the ground water resources.
TCCC had previously not conducted an analysis of the impacts their operations was making on the communities around them, particularly on the use of water. The company used approximately 82 billion gallons of water in all its operations across the world. However, the report on the impacts of water consumption by TCCC on the local communities presented by the Center for Science and the Environment, enabled the company to see its operations from a different perspective and thus react accordingly (Lawrence & Weber, 2016). The concerns on the company’s water utilization also came at a time when there have been global concerns about water consumption and utilization of natural water resources hence could be deduced to have been the identification of an existing gap which had previously been ignored as a result of low global awareness of the depletion of natural water resources. The communities expected TCCC to be more concerned about its water consumption and about the safety of its products, and to take actions that would make the products safer and also replenish the used natural resources.
Albrecht (2019), describes the strategic radar screens model used to evaluate business impacts. The model describes the business environment in terms of 8 environments namely, the customer environment, competitor environment, economic, technological, social, political, legal, and the geophysical environments. Each of these environments presents a unique characteristic of the business and determines the business decisions in one way or the other. For the TCCC at the time of the raised concerns, the most influential environment was the geophysical environment, which relates to the impacts of organizational operations on the natural resources, availability of raw materials and the natural ecosystem. For TCCC, the concerns around water consumption can be described based on their impacts on the natural ecosystem as well as on the availability of raw materials. The high rate of water consumption by the company resulted in significant decrease in the availability of ground water, and also the probability of losing a major raw material in future, hence the need to make changes in the company’s operations.
From the company’s response to the issue raised by different stakeholders, it can be said that TCCC reacted appropriately to the concerns raised. The first step taken by the company was to conduct an independent internal study to determine the impacts of its water use on the communities around it. Through the study, the company was able to confirm the truth about the raised concerns. The inclusion of stakeholders into their study and the extension of the study scope to cover the company’s global operations showed the company’s commitment to working from real time data and to making lasting changes not only in Kerala or India but across all its countries of operation. It is also an indication that the company’s response was not only aimed at restoring its operations in India but also covering its performance gaps satisfactorily. From the study, the company’s sustainability plans go further to prove its commitment to long term change.
According to TCCC plans, the company would endeavor to make sustainable changes in its operations across the world, providing water for the local communities, reducing its water consumption, and recycling water to prevent wastage. Each of these initiatives has been monitored consistently since initiation, with the results continuously determining the next courses of action for the company. Annual reports about the status of the company’s water neutrality initiative continue to provide the company with the inspiration to focus on its sustainability growth. Sharing the report publicly has provided the company with an accountability system through which they can always steer growth. It is conclusive therefore, that the company has made significant changes in its operations and that the changes have the potential to impact the local communities over the long term. The company should therefore continue pushing forward the water neutrality initiative.
Tobacco smoking is one of the major health concerns in the contemporary society. Peer influence and parental influence are mentioned as some of the main motivators towards smoking, especially among youths. In spite of the information available on the internet on the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, there has not been a significant reduction in the smoking rates across the country. On the contrary, the prevalence of smoking has been increasing gradually over the years; even with manufacturers of tobacco products advertise their products with a warning (World Health Organization, 2017). For this reason, other initiatives such as the ban on public smoking have been used to at least reduce exposure of non-smokers to secondhand tobacco smoke. This initiative has resulted in changes in smoking habits and effectively impacted different stakeholders differently. Some of the most affected stakeholders include smokers, youths who would potentially be influenced into smoking, parents, the community as a whole and the government.
These stakeholders play different roles in the context of the ban on public smoking. For instance, those who smoke are prone to exposing others to secondary tobacco smoke. Following the ban, smokers have to change their smoking habits to reflect the changes in legislation. They can no longer smoke in the public areas they smoked in before, resulting in a change of smoking habits, most probably through reduced smoking. On the other hand, the community at large is at risk of being exposed to secondhand smoke without the ban. However, the ban helps to keep non-smokers out of harm’s way with regards to secondhand smoke. The community therefore has the responsibility of engaging in community policing to help monitor adherence to the ban. Parents also have the responsibility of changing their smoking behaviors and the house rules to prevent exposure of young children to smoke. With the ban on public smoking, smoking at home exposure is the only other way children are likely to be initiated into smoking. The government, through its different arms is responsible for enforcing the regulations around public smoking.
The implications of the ban on smoking on families can take two different directions. According to a study by the World Health Organization (2017), family homes are the most unregulated public spaces in which smoking can occur. In fact, there has been evidence that parental smoking in homes inspires smoking habits among youths. The ban on smoking is accompanies by other activities such as creating awareness of the impacts of secondhand smoke and the dangers of smoking. It has also been reported that through a combination of banning public smoking and the educative practices associated with it, there is a probability of voluntary smoking cessation particularly among youths. Needless to say therefore, such outcomes when experienced within the family context can discourage parents from smoking at home and thus reduce the probability of children’s exposure to smoking. On the other hand, there is also a possibility that the ban on public smoking could drive adults into smoking at home, hence increasing the level of family exposure to both secondhand smoke and the influence to smoke.
For my family in particular, the ban on smoking in public areas implies that there will be significant reduction in exposure risk for non-smokers, children, and youths. This is because our family home is a smoke free area. Reduced exposure will imply reduced risk of smoking and subsequently reduced probability of smoking-related health issues and their social and economic effects.
The impacts of the ban on public smoking among tobacco manufacturing companies can be described based on the economic and social perspectives. From the social perspective, it is deductible that marketing by tobacco products manufacturers is within specific government controls. These controls have the implication of reducing the degree of open marketing that manufacturers engage in, which also means that most manufacturers tend to depend on addiction and social influence as drivers of continued tobacco purchase. With the ban on public smoking however, it is evident that there has been a reduction in the prevalence of smoking influence as well as on the smoking behaviors among the existing smokers. Monson and Arsenault (2017) also reported that the ban on public smoking has also resulted in voluntary bans on home smoking behavior. These changes have the impact of reducing purchase frequencies for those who smoke at home as well as for those who have been used to smoking in public places.
For the manufacturer, the impact has been a reduction in the economic benefits associated with tobacco. For instance, reduced demand means that there would be a reduction in the need for production. For manufacturing companies to continue operating sustainably there will be need for change in organizational strategic plans to cater for market changes. The impacts felt by manufacturers may also be shred down to primary producers of tobacco, namely the farmers. At low production levels, the rate of purchase from farmers also reduces, resulting in lower market reliability and the need for other strategic measures to push performance. As a manufacturer, the global nature of our business has however to some extent indemnified our operations from the effects of the public smoking ban in that the company is now focusing on marketing in countries where the rules on tobacco are not that stringent (Sharma, Junaid, & Diwakar, 2017). In so doing, we have significantly increased costs while diversifying markets, a decision that has resulted in improved profit margins. However, the sustainability of this particular outcome cannot be projected due to the increasing publicity of public smoking bans across the world. There will be need to think about other innovative strategies if we are to keep being profitable. The best way would be through investment in the tobacco business as well as the smoking cessation publicity business.
At the country level, the impacts of the public smoking ban have mostly been felt at the economic level. The ban affects parts of the economy in ways that cannot be easily predicted. The ban for instance, results in reduced tobacco smoking, which also creates a favorable social environment for better health and environmental sustainability. According to Warner (2000), the tobacco industry contributes approximately 1.6% per year into the economy, which is approximately. More than 33 million people across the world depend on tobacco as a cash crop, and around half of that number works at tobacco manufacturing plants where they get their livelihoods. The distribution and sales of tobacco however do not constitute a significant amount of economic contributions to any country. Nonetheless, a reduction in the tobacco production and related activities as a result of the ban on public smoking would result in a reduction of economic capabilities of those whose livelihoods are directly linked to the tobacco industry. With a reduction in economic outcomes, the government can expect lower purchase capabilities among its citizens, which will indicate poor economic performance.
Apart from those who are active participants in the tobacco industry, the ban on public smoking is also bound to affect the country through its impacts on the hospitality industry. According to Tomlin (2009), restrictions to smoking in public places have a negative impact on the hospitality industry businesses. Patrons of specific restaurants, hotels or even bars are sometimes attracted by the freedom they have in such places not only to eat, drink, and enjoy themselves, but also to smoke without any questions. As such, requiring a patron to desist from smoking while at a particular restaurant or bar would be detrimental to the business of that premise.
Other impacts of the ban on public smoking come through the implications of that ban on smoking behaviors and on the health of smokers. With reduced rates of smoking, it is expected that there will be lower prevalence rates for smoking-related respiratory diseases, reduced healthcare costs associated with such diseases and reduced insurance expenses on such diseases. In this way, the government saves finances that can then be channeled to other economic needs. For instance, the U.S department of Health and Human Services (2019), reports that the total cost of smoking-related healthcare costs comes to about 300 billion USD every year. This includes nearly $170 spent on direct medical costs for productive adults; productivity losses of more than $ 156 billion, which includes a loss of approximately $5.6 billion as a result of secondhand smoke exposure related issues. Another study by Goodchild, Nargis, and d’Espaignet (2018) showed that the total government expenditures on diseases attributable to smoking have risen to approximately 5.7% of the total global health expenditure. All these are indications of the implications that the ban on public smoking is bound to have on the economy. Through the ban, these expenses would be reduced, giving way to other economic growth activities.
The media has played a significant role not only in publicizing the ban but also in publicizing other activities related to the ban. Additionally, the media has been the most prevalent marketing tool for tobacco manufacturing companies. This means that as much as there is an increased awareness of the impacts of smoking, secondhand smoke and the need for following through with the public smoking ban, information is still available on the marketing activities of manufacturing firms. A study by Freeman (2012), showed that specifically for the new media such as social media networks and any other Internet based communication channels, there is still a lot of information available that markets tobacco. Freeman posits that social media has been a key participant in creating awareness about the dangers of smoking and the ban in general. Through such platforms, it has been possible for the public to engage more voluntarily and more actively in activities that promote smoking cessation. The activities of other media outlets including broadcast media and print media have evolved over time and are continuously being used as reference points for smoking cessation encouragement. Yoo, Yang, and Cho (2016) have also confirmed the positive effect of antismoking messages shared via social media, on youths. The findings by these researchers confirm the argument that media plays a significant role in communication of smoking related information through information sending, receiving, sharing, and commentaries.
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