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Tobacco and Product Safety Standards

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Right to Safety is the first and the most important part of Consumer Rights. They should be protected against the product that hampers their safety. The protection must be against any product which could be hazardous to their health – Mental, Physical, or many of other factors. But tobacco is a product which is completely unsafe and hazardous for consumption. According to reports, smoking is among the leading causes of death around the world. More than 4,000 chemical substances are present in cigarette smoke, including almost 50 which cause cancer. These substances include arsenic, tar, and carbon monoxide. Moreover, cigarettes also contain nicotine, which causes physical and psychological addiction to tobacco. It is estimated that a smoker is three times as likely to die between the ages of 35 and 70 as a non-smoker. In addition, half the people who smoke at age 20 and don’t quit die of a tobacco-related disease.

Tobacco has a major impact on the lungs. An estimated 85% of cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and of lung cancer are caused by smoking. About a third of all cancer cases are due to smoking, including Cancer of the esophagus, mouth, uterus, Bladder cancer, Stomach cancer, and Pancreatic cancer.

Tobacco use is also a significant cause of heart disease. In fact, smoking considerably increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Smoking can also affect fertility. In addition, smoking during pregnancy can adversely affect fetal development, for example, increasing the likelihood of premature birth and low birth weight.

Apart from the severe health consequences discussed above, smoking can also impacts on everyday life. It can affect breathing, causing coughing and shortness of breath. It increases the risk of respiratory tract infection, including bronchitis. All of these occurrences can reduce the quality of life to a great extent. Smoking can also affect in many other ways, for example: altering senses of smell and taste, adverse impact on physical appearance (yellow teeth, prematurely aged skin, unpleasant odor, and so on), condemned to a life of repeatedly trying to suppress feelings of withdrawal, reduce the ability to perform physical exercise, exposing the greater risk of depression and anxiety, retrogression of relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Smoking also entails considerable financial costs, both at the personal level and for the health system. So, tobacco is not a safe product for consumers at all.

Tobacco advertising and ethical conflict

Socially responsible advertising should not promote or contribute to anything damaging to society. But the intention of advertisers is always to portray products in ways that will maximize their desirability to potential consumers. If an advertisement encourages irresponsible use of unsafe and hazardous products, then many would consider it to be socially acceptable. Any advertising message could be considered emotionally manipulative depending on how viewers look at it, so in practice, it comes down to a subjective assessment of what is appropriate and what is not.

Most contemporary tobacco advertising makes very few written or verbal propositions about the tobacco harms. Rather, the advertisements seek to position a set of carefully market researched associations in apposition to the brands being advertised in the attempt to forge positive associations about tobacco, smoking, and smokers. The associations are designed to attach attributes to particular brands so that consumers will identify these brands as compatible with their desired presentation of self in everyday life, or to offer solutions to contradictions in the lives of consumers or in their feelings about smoking.

It has been repeatedly shown that children do indeed see, recall, admire, discuss, and generally relate to advertising in the same sort of ways that adults are intended to do by tobacco advertisers. That’s why the tobacco industry makes much money from sales to underage smokers. Teenagers’ participation in tobacco promotional activities and perception of cigarette advertisements as attractive can lead them to addiction.

Workplace environment in the Tobacco industry

Keeping employees and workers safe in the workplace is an important part of being a responsible organization. But the occupational health risks associated with nicotine absorption in tobacco workers are a reason for concern. The lack of personal protective equipment, including masks, gloves, and boots, due to the high cost of this equipment or to the fact that it is not adapted to a tropical climate, makes agricultural workers vulnerable to acute and chronic poisoning caused by pesticides applied during different stages of the tobacco production process, mostly organophosphate agents.

During the harvest, the body of tobacco workers is surrounded by tobacco plants and potentially exposed to nicotine. Leaves are often held by workers underneath their arms. Dermal absorption of nicotine increases if the leaves are damp, and may be facilitated by preexisting lesions in the hands and armpits. Gloves and water-resistant clothing may prevent this, but most of the time such protective gear is not worn because it makes harvesting more difficult.

The grading of tobacco by the industry for marketing purposes has resulted in a competitive environment that leads farmers to sell at an increasingly lower price. Whereas a few large-scale growers have become rich, many small growers are having trouble with a crop that involves physically demanding work and investment in various resources, and that is associated with dangers to health and the environment resulting from exposure to pesticides and nicotine poisoning, placing at risk all those involved, especially women and children.

Environmental problems resulting from tobacco production

Environmental Social Responsibility is the duty that a company has to operate in a way that protects the environment. If the business is doing damage to the environment then it is not fulfilling this aspect. An ethnographic study carried out in Honduras described the social and ecologic impacts of the production system used for tobacco, which is dried in warm air, including deforestation and exposure to pesticides. Flue-cured tobacco requires a considerable amount of wood, with the potential for significant deforestation. Even though the agreement between the tobacco industry and farmers contemplates reforestation efforts with seedlings provided by the industry (mostly Leucaena and eucalyptus), the results are limited by the great requirement for fuel wood in the region. Exposure to pesticides also occurs when spraying equipment is cleaned and through the disposal of packaging in rivers and streams. The presence of pesticides was mentioned as a possible cause of fish and bird mortality.

The intensive use of pesticides in tobacco farming is damaging the environment. Most pesticides used in the various stages of tobacco production are classified as environmental hazards and are extremely toxic to fish and birds. The use of these products is restricted or banned in Central America, the U.S., and Sweden.

Usually, tobacco farms are located close to important rivers, so there is the contamination of both the superficial aquifer and deep groundwater with pesticides. The strong rains occurring in the region also contribute to the dissemination of toxic residues deposited on the soil following multiple sprayings. Soil fertility in these areas decreases and the use of fertilizers and pesticides in a monoculture system contributes to speeding the degradation, with loss of groundcover.

Tobacco and Community standards

In business, it is also important to respect social and community standards and conduct business activities in such a way that it doesn’t violate them. In most communities, generally, the consumption of tobacco isn’t encouraged. In fact, some have high restrictions regarding tobacco. Due to social and health issues, some governments also have measures to protect non-smokers to some extent through public smoking restrictions. Such measures are helpful, but cannot eliminate tobacco completely, leaving many non-smokers, especially children, at risk in private places such as the home.

Many young adult smokers are in the initiation phase of smoking and are likely to undergo a transition to either nonsmoking or heavier smoking. The more often an individual goes to a bar or club, the more likely he or she is to encounter tobacco promotions in these venues. If unimpeded by regulation, tobacco promotion in bars and clubs is likely to lead to increased adult smoking prevalence. Tobacco addiction leads to various problems. It creates problems in the family and thus a social imbalance as well. Most of the time early addiction to cigarettes leads to further substance abuse. 

Tobacco and increasing criminal activities

Since the dawn of terrorism, procuring finances sufficient to sustain terror operations has been a priority for terrorists. The illicit sale of cigarettes and other commodities by terrorist groups and their supporters has become a crucial part of their funding activities. The punishments handed out for selling illegal tobacco products are often light, especially compared to other illegal activities. It is also often judged to be a low-priority, ‘victimless’ crime and therefore policed far less effectively – making it a low-risk way for criminals to raise funds. Moreover, the cost of producing counterfeit cigarettes is very low. The markup makes them incredibly profitable for criminal groups who of course are also paying no government taxes. Due to their size, illegal tobacco products are much easier to smuggle than, for example, counterfeit car parts or knock-off designer clothing.

Because regulations increasingly prohibit shops from displaying tobacco on shelves and increasingly impose uniform packaging on brands, it’s also much easier to pass off counterfeit tobacco products as ‘real’ – compared to, say, a fake designer handbag.

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Tobacco and Product Safety Standards. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from
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