In the movie “Thank you for smoking”, big companies are seen as having no social responsibility with its consumers and the people that are affected by their products when they clearly know the negative effects and impacts that their products have in society. The big companies in the movie are the ones that belong to the tobacco industry and concentrate in the cigarette business. These companies are shown as not caring for the damage that tobacco does and that regardless of the effects of cigarettes on people, because they still want to sell their product in order to earn a profit.
These companies fund an association called The Academy of Tobacco Studies, whose main purpose is to research the connection that may exist between cigarettes and lung cancer.
In the association a very important employee named Nick Naylor, who is the main character of the movie, holds two very important roles, that of chief spokesman and vice-president. Nick Naylor has the hard job of representing the interests of tobacco companies in a society that finds tobacco despicable.
In other words, he tries to persuade people that the tobacco companies and cigarettes are not bad for people, when globally it is known that tobacco kills. It is known that tobacco kills because it is the primary producer of lung cancer. Throughout the whole movie many clear evidences on how these tobacco companies have no social responsibility can be seen.
In the movie a very important quote said by Nick Naylor is one that said; “ We can put the sex back in the cigarettes.” That quote came out when the board of the academy for tobacco studies was in session due to the threat posted by the Vermont Senator Ortolan Finisterre, an important critic against cigarettes usage in the United States. The threat against all of the tobacco companies was a year after the announcement every package of cigarettes must contain a picture of skull and crossbones with a message in containing the word POISON on all cigarette packages. The threat alarmed the entire Academy and so it was proposed by Naylor to try to put back cigarettes into movies and to send the message that smoking is cool and sexy. Nick later in the movie was sent to Los with the purpose of proposing to a very important media manager to a deal to make cigarettes appear in a new film.
On that same trip to California, another clear evidence on why companies on the film have no Social Responsibility is, the whole dilemma with the Marlboro Man. The Marlboro Man was the head figure used in advertisement by the Marlboro Company. He is shown in the movie with lung cancer, originated because he fell on the vice of smoking due to the advertisement that he made, that had as target to sell cigarettes. Nick Naylor, while in California, was sent with a suitcase full of money to the Marlboro Man’s ranch. When he first arrived he wasn’t well greeted, instead he was pointed with a rifle. He instantly assumed that Nick’s appearance at his home could be a bribe in order for him not to talk publicly about his conditions. But Nick, with the intentions he had convinced the Marlboro Man that he could enter his ranch so they could talk. While inside the ranch, even the Marlboro Man’s wife told Nick that how could he dare to come to their home.
When they both, Nick and Marlboro Man settled in the living room to talk, the Marlboro Man told Nick the whole story about how the company treated him when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. The Marlboro Man told Nick that when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he went to the annual stockholders convention, where he stated that the company should cut back on advertising. The response he got from Nick’s boss at the convention when he said that was; “ We are certainly sorry to hear about your medical problem, however not knowing more about your medical history we cant come in any further”. The Marlboro Man told Nick that this was as if he had never worked for them, that they treated him like he never did an advertisement, promotion, and marketing for their deadly product.
This whole dilemma about the Marlboro Man has a lot to do with the lack of social responsibility in the companies’ side. For example in the evidence shown before about the Marlboro Man, it can be clearly showed that they didn’t care about their own people. Not caring about the people that make your company work and ditching them in the way The Marlboro Man was, only makes you look like a person who is only looking for their own interests throughout life, which from my point of view is wrong. Having self-interest in life is wrong, because things are just going to be done in a way that you only want to be benefited as is the case of the companies in the film, whose only goal and purpose is to make a profit from selling cigarettes without caring who is going to die, either it is a costumer, an employee or even a family member. In the course of the movie it can also be seen as how important and high ranked figures in the tobacco companies behave with the decisions taken.
B.R., who is not only Nick’s Boss but also the president of the academy, in the beginning of the movie, before Nick said the quote about sex and cigarettes, B.R.: “We don’t sell tic-tacs for Christ’s sake, we sell cigarettes; and they’re cool, available, and addictive. The job is almost done for us.” In these quote it can be seen from the point of view of the company that what they want is to make a profit, and that regardless of what they’ll have to do to keep the company profitable they will do it. In other words the quote says that cigarettes cause an addiction and that are always available, and that the only thing that is not done for them is that people believe that cigarettes are cancerous and harmful and in effect would stop buying their deadly product. So with barriers like the POISON tag that the Vermont Senator wants to implement, the quantity of cigarettes sold will decrease, so the company will start to profit less. It can be seen in the film that the companies know accurately what they are selling and know the harm they are doing to their customers.
In conclusion, most companies all around the world don’t care about the effects of what their products do, how they treat their employees, etc, because what they only care about is making a profit and earning money. Companies lack on their social responsibility in the film, they don’t care whom and how their products affect. It can be seen very clearly that the tobacco companies don’t care that thousands of people die ever year because of cigarettes, they only care about themselves, so they can produce and keep on selling cigarettes to people. People need to care more about their “neighbors”, which means that people need to be more aware of the fellow people around themselves and to care about them. From my point of view, I
think that it is intended in the movie to put the companies in this way so people can realize how the world is today, people are just thinking about themselves all day and caring for the others less and less everyday.