Forces and Public Issues in Industry
The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) was in the spotlight following adverse impacts of its operations on the quality and availability of fresh water to local communities. The public issue led to the shutting down of one of the company’s bottling plants in the state of Kerala, India. Additionally, a “performance-expectations gap” existed between stakeholders and the company itself. According to the general public, being one of the world’s largest beverage companies, TCCC had the responsibility of providing contamination-free products to customers. The general public further expected minimal impacts on communities living around the firm’s plants. However, TCCC failed to meet the said expectations because it chose to prioritize its performance over the well-being of the public. In India, for instance, a group of people living in neighborhoods near the company’s bottling plants raised concerns that the company was depleting groundwater through its high-water usage practices (Lawrence & Weber, 2013). The depletion of groundwater had adverse impacts on local communities in terms of drinking water shortage and depletion of irrigation resources. Another concern raised by stakeholders, which also signified a difference between stakeholder expectation and the company’s performance, was the realization that TCCC’s product’s contained dangerous pesticide residue levels (Lawrence & Weber, 2013). Moreover, around the world, water was emerging as a significant concern to world leaders as a result of TCCC’s practices.
In the event the strategic radar screens model is applied to the case, four environments proposed by the model including customer, legal, social, and geophysical environments would be applicable (Albrecht, n.d.). The most important environment as far as the case is concerned is the geophysical environment given the public concerns surrounding TCCC’s product contamination with dangerous pesticide residues and depletion of groundwater resources. TCCC’s production had been contributing to the over usage of water. The inappropriate usage of this resource by the company resulted in reduced access to water by local communities in India, among other nations, leading to the shutdown of the enterprise’s plant in the country. Responding to the situation, TCCC developed a plan whose objective was to acknowledge and address the problem caused.
TCCC’s response to the issue can be considered to be appropriate due to various reasons. To start with, the company set goals regarding water neutrality and showed commitments towards achieving the set goals. Taking into account the impacts of its operations on local communities, the company, through its representatives, listened to local communities and took significant steps towards addressing the mentioned issue. For example, it engaged several stakeholders and sought their advice on what could be done to resolve the problem (Lawrence & Weber, 2013). TCCC also engaged each of its top bottlers and operating groups with engagement resulting in the company’s decision to adopt safe water practices of reducing, recycling, and replenishing. Consequently, in 2011, the corporation reported having reduced its water ratio by almost 13 percent from baseline levels (Lawrence & Weber, 2013). TCCC further estimated that around 39 percent of its production facilities had started to rely on recycled water, while 23 percent of the water that was used in its final products had been replenished through water projects in local communities.
Smoking of cigarettes is a common practice around the world despite being linked to a number of cancer types, including the mouth, stomach, lung, cavity, colon, nasal cavity, liver, and other cancers. Other health complications attributed to cigarette smoking are rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory illness, diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration. Cigarette smoking also results in respiratory complications such as pneumonia (Coughlin, Anderson, & Smith, 2015). Additionally, the habit causes unborn babies to be born prematurely or have low weight upon birth. Other tobacco products inclusion cigars or pipes also cause or increase the risk of cancer for humans. Research shows that in the United States alone, cigarette smoking accounts for over 90 percent of lung cancers. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) argues that smoke from tobacco contains more than 7,000 chemicals, with 70 of these found to cause cancer (Sasco, Secretan, & Straif, 2004). Persons who actively smoke are more likely to develop and succumb to lung cancer as compared to those who do not smoke (Coughlin, Anderson, & Smith, 2015). Long-term and frequent smokers are at a higher risk of developing cancer and other conditions that are related to smoking than short-term and infrequent smokers.
Passive smokers, those who inhale smoke produced when others smoke (secondhand smoke), face a number of risks. Foremost, the inhalation of secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer. According to Coughlin, Anderson, & Smith (2015), the risk of a person living with an active smoker developing lung cancer is increased by between 20 and 30 percent compared to the one that does not live with an active smoker. Nonsmoking adults and children are likely to nicotine-related conditions and premature death. For example, a person exposed to secondhand smoke also faces an increased risk of heart disease, by between 25 and 30 percent, and stroke, by between 20 and 30 percent (Coughlin, Anderson, & Smith, 2015). The exposure of pregnant women to secondhand smoke increases their chances of delivering low birth-weight babies. The exposure of infants and young children to the same results in an increased risk of health complications including bronchitis, colds, asthma, and ear infections.
The risks that accompany cigarette smoking have prompted the enactment of smoke-free legislation in many countries around the world to protect the general population from the harmful health impacts of secondhand smoke. For example, the U.S. has banned smoking in public places. Besides protection against serious harmful health implications caused by secondhand smoke, the move to ban smoking in public has also helped to minimize smoking as a practice. Although smoking has been banned comprehensively in selected public areas such as hospitals, trains, and workplaces, it has been partially banned in other public areas including bars, casinos, and restaurants. There ought to be a comprehensive ban on smoking in all public areas.
Some primary and secondary stakeholders influence or are influenced by the ban on smoking in public places. Primary stakeholders that the ban impacts include tobacco companies, cigarette retail stores, and tobacco consumers. Tobacco companies are affected by the ban of smoking in public places because they benefit from the sale of cigarettes hence the strong opposition to such bans. In this regard, companies have the responsibility of educating consumers about the health effects of tobacco consumption and the need to refrain from smoking in public places. Cigarette retail stores sell the products directly to consumers. As such, their role is to educate consumers and emphasize the adverse health implications of the product. Tobacco consumers’ major role is to reduce the consumption of the product to reduce potential harmful health effects.
Secondary stakeholders influenced or who influence the ban of smoking in public places include government agencies. The role of government agencies is to create policies for the general public with regard to banning smoking either in indoor or outdoor public places. Governments are also responsible for the positive and adverse outcomes of the said policy.
What Does This Mean to My Family?
The tobacco industry poses a significant threat to global society at large. Since my family is part of the global society, it is also impacted in one way or the other by decisions made regarding tobacco use some of which include banning smoking behavior in public places. Tobacco use leads to over 5 million deaths every year and is attributed to the death of 1 in every ten adults around the world. Tobacco use falls under the five greatest risk factors for mortality around the world, but remains the most preventable risk factor (Malhotra, Malvezzi, Negri, La Vecchia, & Boffetta, 2016). It is estimated that 11 percent of deaths that result from chronic heart disease are attributed to tobacco consumption. Moreover, over 70 percent of deaths resulting from various cancer types, such as tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer, are linked to tobacco use (Gallaway et al., 2018). With these adverse impacts of tobacco use in mind, the idea of banning smoking in public places could be a great advantage for my family. None of my close family members is an active smoker, which means that secondhand smoke poses the greatest risk of cancer and other health complications to my family members. The fact that we are frequent visitors to public places such as shopping malls, markets, restaurants, and others where smoking is common means that we face an increased risk for lung cancer and other health complications unknowingly. These risks warrant the strict enforcement of the policy of banning smoking in public places. Millions of lives are lost annually to secondhand smoke, which is attributed to laxity in the enforcement of such policies already in place. Life-long non-smokers who live in neighborhoods with people who actively smoke have between 20 and 30 percent risk of lung cancer (Simon, 2019). This statistic is unacceptable given the fact that enforcement of the ban on smoking in public places is possible if every stakeholder is involved.
What Does This Mean to My Company?
The greatest challenge is when societal expectations are high regarding an issue while the issue is of relevance to a particular business at the same time. In the tobacco industry, societal expectations are high as far as reducing the effects of tobacco on health is concerned. With society being aware of the adversities surrounding tobacco use, there are numerous campaigns against the same (Lawrence & Weber, 2013). On the other hand, tobacco manufacturing companies focus on maximizing profits hence their opposition to policies such as banning smoking in public places, which they believe would reduce the number of cigarettes and people who smoke.
Banning of smoking in public places would jeopardize my company’s profitability and revenue generation goals if I were an executive in the tobacco industry. Thus, as an executive in the industry, I would carefully analyze the issue at hand, taking into account its impacts on the general public and the fact that my company also has to benefit from the business. Tobacco use has adverse implications not only on active smokers but also passive smokers. Those at the greatest risk of various cancer types and health complications attributed to active and passive smoking are children and pregnant women. That tobacco use is a bad practice for society cannot be doubted. One of the steps I would take, as an executive in the tobacco industry, would be creating awareness to the public about my company’s commitment to addressing the adverse implications of tobacco use on health and the environment at large. I would come up with campaigns against excessive smoking and warn pregnant women against active or passive cigarette smoking. Moreover, I would partner with various environmental and health organizations to address the issue surrounding smoking in public places.
What Does This Mean to My Country?
Various governments have a major role to play as far as banning smoking in public places is concerned. Governments have a responsibility to prevent possible adverse health implications of tobacco use on their citizens. In the U.S., for instance, the government has enacted legislation and come up with policies that have facilitated the banning of smoking in public places (Thomson, Wilson, Edwards, & Woodward, 2008). For example, policies that determine smoking-free places have been established, and they restrict smoking in public places and workplaces. Furthermore, most of these policies are enforced at the state and local levels. Federal law prohibits smoking in federal government workplaces except for workspaces where one person has access during a shift. It also forbids smoking in selected commercial areas such as banking halls, telecommunications, broadcasting, and public transportation. State and local statutes prohibit smoking in public indoor areas and workplaces with specific zones being designated for the same.
In addition to coming up with policies and enacting legislation that prohibit smoking in public places, the U.S. government’s role in preventing possible adverse health implications of tobacco use is evident in the enactment of legislation and formulation of policies of advertisement of tobacco products. Except for a few cases, several advertisements, promotions, and sponsorship of tobacco products are prohibited. However, advertisements targeting adults are acceptable, some of which include sending direct mail to specific adults.
The ban on smoking in public places has been aided by the strict laws and policies that regulate tobacco packaging and labeling. The U.S. government and other governments have stressed the need for businesses to include pictorial health warnings on tobacco product packages. The inclusion of misleading information or labeling of tobacco product packages is prohibited by most governments. The inclusion of health warnings on cigarette packages, for instance, has not only helped to reduce smoking in public places but also the number of active smokers across the U.S. and the rest of the world.
The media plays a key role in influencing public opinion as far as tobacco use is concerned. Media platforms such as television, radio advertisements, newspapers, magazines, movies, TV shows, and social media influence the public to either stop or embrace tobacco consumption (Wakefield et al., 2008). In the case of a public issue, stakeholders rely on media to change public opinion in their favor. For instance, cigarette companies may put up an advert of a celebrity actor smoking in a public area to push their interest, which is to have more people purchase their products. Such an approach by cigarette companies could be beneficial for companies because of the influence many celebrities enjoy. For example, such an approach was taken in the 1960s when Audrey Hepburn, an icon in the film and fashion industry, made a famous statement with an oversized cigarette holder while having breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Governments can also rely on various media platforms to successfully campaign against tobacco use, particularly in public places. For instance, the government can have a sports celebrity, such as Lebron James, promote the idea of no smoking in public places. Such an approach could reverse the public opinion regarding smoking in public places, thus helping the government to achieve its goal of reducing potential health risks posed to the general public as a result of the practice.
The media helps to report a new policy to the public, thus influencing the public’s perception of the policy. A private channel owned by tobacco manufacturing companies could disseminate information on the adverse impacts of policies formulated and implemented by governments such as banning cigarette smoking in public places. On the other hand, a media platform owned by the government could be used to influence the opinion of the public and have them believe that smoking in public is unacceptable. Typical examples are how media outlets such as CNN and Fox News were used to convey messages on the illegality of smoking in public places during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
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Coughlin, S. S., Anderson, J., & Smith, S. A. (2015). Legislative smoking bans for reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and smoking prevalence: Opportunities for Georgians. Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association, 5(1), 2. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4560263/pdf/nihms716153.pdf
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Simon, S. (2019, October 31). Lung Cancer Risks for Non-smokers. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/why-lung-cancer-strikes-nonsmokers.html
Thomson, G., Wilson, N., Edwards, R., & Woodward, A. (2008). Should smoking in outside public spaces be banned? Yes. BMJ, 337, a2806.
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