A Fire in the Global Village: Teaching Ethical Reasoning and Stakeholder Interests Utilizing Tobacco
Lucien J. Dhooge Sue and John Staton Professor of Law
Journal of Legal Studies Education
Volume 29, Issue 1, pages 95–125, Winter / Spring 2012
[T]is a plague, a mischief, a violent purger of goods, lands, health; hellish, devilish and damned tobacco, the ruin and overthrow of body and soul.( Richard Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), quoted in Philip J. Hilts, Smokescreen 185 (1996))
Tobacco has been an agricultural staple from the time of the first recorded European encounter with the plant in the fifteenth century.2 The pervasive nature of its cultivation ...view middle of the document...
The final portion of the case study discusses the economic and health consequences of smoking with specific emphasis on the consequences for the developing world in general and poor populations in particular. These factual sections are followed by questions addressing stakeholders, the application of ethical theories.
Assignment: You are to read the case and prepare in writing answers to the discussion questions and have those answers available in class.
The case Study: Factual Background
A. U.S. Government Regulation of the Tobacco Industry
1. Regulation of Marketing
Tobacco products, and cigarettes in particular, have been subject to increasing regulation in the United States since the issuance of the first Surgeon General's report linking smoking to lung and laryngeal cancers and chronic bronchitis in 1964.15 Subsequent Surgeon General reports have documented a wide variety of illnesses associated with smoking. Perhaps most important were the Surgeon General's reports in 1972 and 1981 concluding involuntary exposure to cigarette smoke posed significant health hazards for nonsmokers,16 and no cigarette or level of cigarette consumption is safe.17 The tobacco industry denied these conclusions from the time of the issuance of the first Surgeon General's report until October 1999 when Philip Morris USA broke ranks and admitted smoking is addictive and causes disease.18
In response to these reports, restrictions were imposed upon domestic marketing of tobacco products commencing in the mid-1960s, including the placement of health warnings on all cigarette packs sold in the United States19 and bans upon television and radio advertising.20 Perhaps the most ambitious attempt to regulate cigarettes occurred in 1996 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued rules classifying nicotine as a drug and cigarettes as drug delivery devices. However, these regulations were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Food & Drug Administration v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation on the basis that the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 did not authorize the FDA to regulate tobacco absent express congressional intent.21
The FDA received congressional authorization to regulate tobacco in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama in June 2009.22 This statute requires warning labels covering one-half of the front and back of each carton and pack of cigarettes and 20 percent of each large advertisement.23 Tobacco-related sponsorships of sports and entertainment events are prohibited as are giveaways of nontobacco items with the purchase of tobacco products. Outdoor tobacco advertising is prohibited within one thousand feet of schools and playgrounds.24 Point-of-sale advertising is limited to adults-only facilities, and vending machines may be present only in such facilities. Flavored cigarettes are prohibited as are cigarettes advertised as “light” or “mild.” Although the FDA cannot prohibit...