Posted by: audreybenenati | February 17, 2010

Tobacco industry: A question of corporate social irresponsibility


Wednesday, 17 February 2010 01:06 Akin Owoeye

I have in recent times observed through newspaper articles the generous activities of tobacco companies, particularly the British American Tobacco (BAT) which claims to be social responsible. Tobacco companies make so much noise about what they do, despite the laid-down rules and procedures on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. But the truth is, it is normal for any responsible company to engage in CSR.

CSR is an effort to bring corporate values more in line with society’s expectations and values. That is, a way for companies to develop a code of conduct and provide accountability to society. It is however my view that legally enforceable mechanisms based on internationally agreed standards in the areas of human, social and environmental rights are necessary to reverse the unsustainable impacts of tobacco companies’ activities.

The tobacco companies, through their CSR efforts, attempt to gain credibility and public trust, but their CSR efforts have not demonstrated any positive impact on public health. They give little to host communities and take so much out of them. The industry claims to help tobacco farmers by giving loans, while in actual fact it forces them to grow tobacco for buyers who will provide all inputs. When the cost is deducted from the farmers’ earnings, the leftover can hardly be used for anything. Moreover, they sign contracts which they know nothing about, a situation which has kept them mired in abject poverty.

Read the rest at http://www.businessdayonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8511:tobacco-industry-a-question-of-corporate-social-irresponsibility&catid=138:commentary&Itemid=358

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