Curing the Addiction to Profits

A Supply-Side Approach to Phasing out Tobacco
June 20, 2005
402.13 KB170 pages

Curing the addiction to profits: A supply-side approach to phasing out tobacco offers a fresh approach to one of the world’s most challenging health problems.

The authors explore the shortcomings of tobacco control strategies that focus exclusively on trying to reduce the demand for cigarettes. Although this approach has reduced smoking rates, it has not sufficiently slowed the repeated cycle of addiction and death which continues to claim one in five Canadian lives.

One source of the tobacco problem, the authors suggest, lies in the decision to entrust the supply of cigarettes to business corporations. These corporations are legally obliged to serve the “best interests” of their shareholders, a responsibility that compels tobacco corporations to strive to maximize profits by increasing cigarette sales, even though doing so causes the deaths of millions.

This profit seeking drive also pushes tobacco corporations to defeat and undermine public measures to reduce smoking. This book proposes transferring responsibility for the making and selling of cigarettes to public-interest agencies that have a clear health mandate, and offers financially sustainable options for how this can be done.

The authors explain why those who demonize Big Tobacco as a morally-flawed rogue industry are wrong to expect corporations to act against their fiduciary imperatives. They show why those responsible for granting business corporations control over the tobacco market should ensure that healthier options are taken, and they explain how this could be done.