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Comments on “Thank you for smoking” by Jason Reitman in the light of business ethics

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Nick's only real friends.
  3. A deal for product placement in a sci-fi blockbuster.
  4. An example of the perfect negation of business ethics.
  5. Nick respects freedom of opinion above all.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

?Thank you For Smoking? is a movie from 2005, about a tobacco industry lobbyist, Nick Naylor. As the negative effects of tobacco on health are no longer easy to deny, the tobacco companies join in the creation of the Academy of Tobacco Studies. The purpose of this academy is to prove scientifically that tobacco is not addictive, or that nicotine and lung cancer are linked in any way. Nick Naylor describes his work in these terms: ?I get paid to talk. I don't have an MD or law degree, I've got a bachelor in kicking ass and taking names?. He's the spin control specialist, and he really enjoys it. The first scene of the movie is a perfect example of Nick Naylor's talent to spin. On a TV show, surrounded by anti-tobacco associations and a young boy dying from cancer, Nick ends up accusing the associations from profiting off the death of the cancer boy, and proves the concern of tobacco companies for the American children by announcing the launch of a 50 million dollars campaign aimed at persuading kids not to smoke.

[...] He sees himself as doing a job similar to the job of a defense lawyer, and as such doesn't feel that much remorse in defending the guilty party: I do what I do, defending the defenseless, protecting the disenfranchised corporations that have been abandoned by their very own consumers? As he says himself to his son, morals are not just about black and white: you go to an office, then you go on TV and talk about cigarettes. Then you fly to LA to talk to some guy who works with movie stars, what is that? [...]


[...] He also has the courage of being universally hated and still going on with his job. These are the virtues he values. The problem with his point of view is quite frequent in large organizations. His focus seems too small. The fact that he's only a small part of a huge mechanism shouldn't free him from responsibilities of the overall consequences. In this case deaths a year. The difference with a defense lawyer is huge. The defense lawyer usually intervenes after a crime has been committed, to guarantee the best defense to his client. [...]

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