Philip Morris and Ethical Considerations in the Tobacco Industry


Philip Morris, renowned for producing iconic cigarette brands such as Marlboro, has recently faced significant legal challenges, including a substantial $10 billion damages settlement linked to the marketing of 'light' cigarettes in the United States. Despite these legal battles, the company has taken steps to communicate the potential health risks associated with smoking, particularly with 'light' cigarettes, through major newspaper advertisements. This essay delves into Philip Morris's mission statement, ethical considerations in the tobacco industry, and the tension between meeting stakeholder demands and maintaining ethical standards.

Philip Morris's Mission Statement

A Mission Statement serves as a crucial guide for an organization, outlining its purpose and primary objectives. In the case of Philip Morris, their mission statement emphasizes four key points. Firstly, the company aims to invest in leadership, focusing on nurturing and supporting individuals capable of steering the organization forward, including external stockholders and leading brands. Secondly, Philip Morris endeavors to comprehend and address societal concerns relevant to their industry. The third point highlights the company's commitment to innovation, aiming to develop products that better satisfy the demands of the adult population.

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Lastly, growth is a pivotal aspect of their mission, encompassing strategic execution plans and fostering both marketing sector expansion and returns for shareholders.

While these objectives align with traditional business goals, ethical considerations cast a shadow on Philip Morris's ability to fulfill stakeholder demands. The paramount ethical issue lies in the adverse health effects of smoking. Burning tobacco produces over 5,000 chemicals, with approximately 100 identified as causes or potential causes of smoking-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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The company faces a dilemma in reconciling stakeholder demands with the ethical imperative to mitigate the health risks associated with smoking.

Ethical Considerations in the Tobacco Industry

Beyond health concerns, another ethical issue surrounding cigarettes pertains to their environmental impact. The tobacco plant is susceptible to diseases and insects, leading to the use of chemicals and pesticides such as DDT, Aldrin, and Methyl bromide. These substances not only harm the environment but can also contaminate water supplies. Furthermore, the production of cigarettes contributes to deforestation, with approximately 600 million trees sacrificed annually.

Cigarette litter, especially the ubiquitous cigarette butt, poses a severe environmental threat. The Keep America Beautiful Pocket Ashtray Study in 2008 revealed that 35% of smokers litter five or more cigarette butts per pack, contributing to widespread pollution. Discarded cigarette butts can harm wildlife and waterways, and the chemicals released into the air during wildfires exacerbate environmental degradation.

Despite these ethical concerns, Philip Morris International remains a formidable player in the global tobacco market. Operating in around 180 countries, the company held a 16% share of the international cigarette market outside the U.S. in 2011. This figure rises to 28.1% when excluding the People's Republic of China and the U.S. Market dominance is evident, with Philip Morris ranking first in 13 markets and second in nine of the 30 largest markets by cigarette industry size.

The Balancing Act: Stakeholder Demands vs. Ethical Standards

The tension between meeting stakeholder demands and upholding ethical standards becomes palpable when considering the health and environmental implications of smoking. While Philip Morris's mission statement underscores the importance of growth and satisfying stakeholder demands, the ethical dimensions of tobacco production raise significant challenges.

Addressing health concerns involves more than just acknowledging the dangers of smoking; it necessitates a fundamental shift in the company's approach. Investing in leadership and innovative products must align with ethical principles, prioritizing consumer well-being over profit margins. The company's commitment to societal understanding should extend beyond superficial gestures to comprehensive actions aimed at minimizing the harm caused by their products.

Environmental responsibility should also be a central tenet of Philip Morris's mission. A shift towards sustainable practices, reduction in chemical use, and active participation in conservation efforts could demonstrate a genuine commitment to ethical and environmental stewardship. Balancing stakeholder interests with ethical considerations requires a proactive and transparent approach, acknowledging the industry's impact and actively working towards positive change.


In conclusion, Philip Morris, a global tobacco giant, faces a complex challenge in reconciling stakeholder demands with ethical considerations. While the company's mission statement emphasizes growth, innovation, and meeting societal demands, the ethical issues surrounding smoking, including health risks and environmental impact, cast a shadow over these objectives. Achieving a balance between stakeholder interests and ethical responsibility requires a holistic transformation in the tobacco industry's practices. Philip Morris must prioritize ethical considerations, implementing measures that go beyond surface-level awareness campaigns to actively mitigate the health and environmental consequences of smoking. Only through such transformative actions can the company truly align its mission with ethical standards, fostering a responsible and sustainable approach to tobacco production.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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Philip Morris and Ethical Considerations in the Tobacco Industry. (2016, Oct 26). Retrieved from

Philip Morris and Ethical Considerations in the Tobacco Industry essay
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