Warren Whitfield

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Is it right to profit from addiction? Is it right to profit from harm?

Is it right to profit from the sale of addictive products and services, specifically, from the portion of consumers who are addicted i.e. cannot control their consumption? Whilst morality is a subjective issue, the harm that is caused by this practice is measurable. Therefore is it right to profit from causing harm?

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    Oct 2 2012: Do we put psychiatrists in this camp, as well as Big Pharma?
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    Sep 28 2012: When I was younger I took issue with doctors who farmed tobacco in my state of north carolina, usa. I judged it improper, immoral, and simply wrong. I labeled those doctors hypocrites.

    Is it right to profit from addiction, to profit from harm? The tobacco industry here began before its products' addictive nature was fully known. Again, in my younger days (20's) I felt it was hypocritical of society to allow these tobacco companies to continue to sell their products -- I thought they should be shut down. Today, I have no problem letting them exist, though I have a mild amusement/concern/annoyance with politicians and others judging marijuana use harshly and condoning tobacco & alcohol because they are 'legal'...

    I wouldn't be cool with allowing a start-up company to produce a product like tobacco/cigarettes today as it is very well known how harmful and addictive -- for a high percentage of people -- it is. If, however, only 10% or so -- as with alcohol -- of those who use a product are suspected to become addicted to it, I have no problem with that. Though, I'd hope that structures would be in place to cope with the addiction (i.e. percentage of profits go towards rehab centers, etc.) that comes along with it. A philosophical perspective of looking at 'the greater good' could be considered here as well...for instance, with gambling...legalizing and taxing gambling in some places could bring tremendous revenue and help build schools, roads, etc. while only destroying a small percent.

    I think it is more important to consider peoples' right to choice than it is to consider judging, labeling, restricting choices. This is coming from an alcoholic in recovery. We all have our own journeys and some of us will face addiction, others will face other compelling issues.

    Underneath it all, however, it's most important to consider why we are seeking external stimuli like addictive substances/behaviors in the first place.
  • Sep 25 2012: Apparently not.
    AS it is, that is the system we have world-wide and in which all participate, so I'm guessing that it isn't wrong.
    If it is, then most accept and tolerate it as long as they are not being burned too badly or as long as there are others who have it worse than them.

    Is it wrong to kill? Apparently not, as those who gave us such a guideline are the ones who profusely, liberally and justifiably (made it up), broke that guideline and continue to shed the blood of others, even today.

    Capitalism is capitalizing on.,..... what? Whatever one can because that is the horrible and evil system we have.
    Another person's woes, bad breaks, mistakes and lack of knowing, knowledge or experience. It is a horrible system and while so many laud that we are such a "higher animal" than the rest of the joke Kingdom, we continue to live like wild animals for survival. That means we all have to do whatever we can to survive and that only or usually comes from profiting off of others. Don't matter what the profit comes from as long as it comes.

    But I take exception to this line from Feyisayo Anjorin:
    "It is the responsibility of individuals to control their instincts, tastes, cravings and desires."
    That is such a moot point in light of how humans are controlled, manipulated and brainwashed by every institution humans have, mostly beginning and ending with religion.
    Billions of humans are told what to like, what to have, how to live and so forth and never really find out who they really are and so on. So that comment just isn't true or doesn't apply.

    Virtually everything has become an addiction of sorts because profit is needed in order to continue the survival of something much more important than a human being. The company, the corporation, the rulers, the killers, the leaders, the evil ones.
    Once again, here are seven needs of a monetary system: greed, crime, inequality, poverty, slavery, war and death.
    Are those okay by you? They all involve profit or they will die.
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    Sep 24 2012: Most good things turn bad when misused; or when taken in excess. In some cases a product is addictive but it still has its benefitial uses when applied in appropraite measures. In such cases it may not be the intention of the producer or supplier to turn people to addicts.
    In some cases it could be important for such producers to have warnings of the package of such products.

    It is the responsibility of individuals to control their instincts, tastes, cravings and desires.
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      Sep 25 2012: Feyisayo, the do you understand addiction? People who are addicted cannot control themselves. And whilst they may have been responsible in using alcohol for instance, once addicted they can't control themselves. In South Africa, the so called warning on every alcoholic "beverage" is simply... Not for sale to persons under the age of 18 years old. Your argument is what alcohol manufacturers use to exclude themselves from any liability whatsoever. But does the so called warning on alcoholic beverages in South Africa "Not for sale to person's under the age of 18 years of age" - adequately warn people that... 1) Alcohol is a a drug. 2) The government recommended daily allowance of alcohol is 2 units per day for men and 1 unit per day for woman? 3) That drinking more than the government recommended daily allowance is considered misuse? 4) That misusing drugs can kill you? see http://www.ahrc.org.za
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    Oct 5 2012: I think the question becomes blurry when we move away from the almost universally agreed upon "bad" addictions, like drugs, smoking, over-eating and the like and move into the realm of neutral or "good addictions....These I feel are more socially approved.. Things like an obsession with fitness or the right lifestyle or cleaning house, which runs deep in our family....Is it wrong for the makers of Lysol and Pledge to profit from the push for spotless floors? Nike and Reebok to profit from a runner's obsession? Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma for the obsession towards "Maximizing your life and getting massive results"?

    I think we need to look at ALL our addictions, not just the "bad" ones....
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    Oct 5 2012: It is wrong to blame others for our problems. Who is to blame that I cannot control my consumption? The seller or myself? A drug dealer cannot harm me without my permission. If I cannot control myself, the most restrictive laws will not stop me from harming myself.

    It is important to know ourselves - our own passions, strengths, weaknesses, and develop self-control. Those who do not control themselves, are controlled by others. Self-knowledge and self-control can solve most if not all moral issues . To "do unto others...", I need to know "what I would have them do to me". Let's know ourselves; control our passions; spend time with "I am who I am". Let's impose our moral values on ourselves, not on others.
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    Oct 2 2012: Which type of addiction is the topic addressing? Drug consumption that alters a person's physiology in a "harmful" manner, like alcohol and tobacco consumption? Gambling addiction, which is something totally different, and causes primarily social interaction and financial problems for the addict?

    Is anybody here "addicted" to using the Internet? Should the companies that charge me a price for having access to the Internet be banned from doing that because they make a profit doing it?

    A quote from the below linked article: "However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, or gamble or shop, nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction."


    Let's not try to find a "one size fits all" solution to the overall different types of addiction. Won't work.

    PS - As an aside, someone mentioned they could never work in a casino. I did for 5 years as a blackjack dealer after retiring from the Air Force. I had zero reservations about it. Why? The casino industry is an ENTERTAINMENT industry, just like movies, television, and Disneyland. People like to play games. It's not the fault of the casinos that some people think they exist so the player can "get rich quick". Anyone playing in a casino SHOULD understand they will end up paying a price for the entertainment experience. That is guaranteed by the odds of the games and the associated payouts being in favor of the casino. It's no different than going to Disneyland and paying the price for your entry ticket to the park. If you play LONG enough in a casino, you WILL "pay the price" for the entertainment. Almost all players I dealt to who had their heads screwed on straight understood that. Some of them didn't. THEY were the "addicted gamblers", and they were playing for other reasons than just entertainment..
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    Sep 24 2012: If the product being sold is a last resort to ameliorate the crippling effects of a chronic physical or emotional condition that left untreated would render life intolerable then yes it is right to profit from that product even though it is known to be addictive and/or harmful. Morphine is extremely addictive and has harmful effects but the sellers of it have a right to profit from its production and distribution, ask any wounded veteran.
  • Oct 8 2012: Supply and demand, can't change it.
  • Oct 8 2012: Yes, and no. Somebody needs to step up and help the additive, that where I come in. Its cheaper to counlser-al, than to ware house. Don't you agree, there is hope for a few....That makes it worth while, and CHEAPER!!!
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      Oct 8 2012: I'm all for helping an addict overcome their addiction if they are willing to accept the help.

      But as many have explained here, humans can become "addicted" to many different things. The definition of "addicted" is even debated by experts within the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and other fields.

      Society (or at least "rule makers") decide(s) which addictions are good or bad. So let's not close down all for-profit companies that provide a product or service that somebody may become "addicted" to, just because the product or service may be "addicting" if misused by the consumer.
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    Oct 4 2012: Addiction . . . if one is in a place without access to one's addiction, one lives. And eventually, it becomes a personal decision.
  • Oct 2 2012: it is wrong to profit, right to benefit
  • Oct 2 2012: From an ethical perspective, I'd like to look at this issue based on the categorical imperative. The producers of harmful products are treating consumers merely as a means to an end; that "end" is profitability. One can argue for harmful producers by saying that the "greater good" is achieved by economic growth outweighing the harm done to consumers, but that is difficult to measure, and utilitarian arguments can get ugly (e.g. if you kill a person to steal their organs in order to save 4 other people).
    We can also conclude that it is wrong based on the intentions of the producers. Since we can assume that the producers know about the harm of their own products, we can conclude that the producers are harming the consumers intentionally; they make a choice to allow people to use their product knowing the consequences.
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    Oct 2 2012: Making money from people’s addiction or harmful substances is not great. But it is people who demand these goods and services.

    People want the choice of using addictive products and services, they want harmful products like cigarettes and fatty fast foods. And we know some will become will become hooked, even if most can partake without losing control.

    I personally would not work for a tobacco company, casino or poker machine company, although I did think about a job with a beer manufacturer.

    This is a very difficult area. Some addictive products and services are legal and some are not.

    And we know prohibition is not very effective. In fact prohibition increases profits, illegal business, and violence and probably increases harm.

    Humans are weak. We like things that make us feel good in the short term, even if there longer term risk and impacts.

    Its not black and white. Its not one size fits all. Fried chicken is harmful. But food is a necessity and cigarettes are not.

    I suggest you need to look at each good and service and work out what is the optimum for freedom of choice and harm minimisation. Some regulation is fine to control exposure without banning. More extreme regulation as the risk of addiction and harm go up. Considering harm on others as well.

    If informed idiots want to smoke or eat themselves to an early death that is their choice. Give people the info and regulate as required. But they should not be allowed to smoke around others. Just like you can drink, but don’t drive.

    In the end people will still choose to have a drink or smoke or chocolate or joint or cocaine and suppliers are entitled to a profit, but should also be taxed more to cover some of the costs. There should also be a consumption tax so the consumers pay their share as well, and perhaps slightly reduce usage.
  • Oct 2 2012: I believe it is wrong. Everyone has a choice including the choice not to sell the addictive products and services. Why don't they deal/sell the solution to this addiction instead? Is it because love is free? You have the right to sell or do whatever you want but when it harms others there may be line there that should not be crossed. Then again can you not say it is the fault of the addicted for getting addicted to something they knew was addictive in the first place? Then again we do have free will and also have the right to make mistakes.
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    Sep 28 2012: An addiction removes (choice) and is therefore not a valid product deserving of protection. Profit should never be made on any substance not consumed by (choice) especially when the benefits are very small.

    Health risks added to the absence of (choice) make this a very easy question to answer.
  • Sep 28 2012: For sure is not right, but in some cases the one who profits is not guilty of others addiction. We must remember that a product exists in the market only if someone buys it. As an example if 2 thirds of the population of one country stops drinking, Then making beer or any kind of liquor wold not be a profitable business. Producers do their thing.And consumers are the ones that support the business.
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    Sep 26 2012: Is is right to profit? While others struggle
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    Sep 25 2012: of course not .we should not
    you know in order to make a better world we should do something that is good to our health..so just drink a cup of tea ...have a better life right?
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    Gail .

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    Sep 25 2012: Take the emotion out of your question and ask your real question: Is it right to profit?
  • Sep 25 2012: by the same token, is it right to benefit during the rehabilitation?
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      Sep 25 2012: Thanks, Mr. Koenraadt, for your candid follow-up question. Is the question for someone in particular? Please note that the way to reply to a particular contributor is to select the word "Reply" (in red) in that person's comment. If there is no "Reply" available you can begin a new post prefaced with "@ Mr. ?????"
      • Sep 25 2012: it was to no one in particular, just a general question to try and provoke thought about it.
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      Sep 25 2012: Well profiting from rehabilitation is profiting from treatment, that's a whole other question. The question is related to profiting from selling things that cause harm. Specifically, from the portion pf profits that are directly earned from consumers who are addicted, i.e. cannot control their consumption and would rather not be consuming.
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        Sep 25 2012: what you are saying is tobacco?
      • Sep 25 2012: Would it not count under addiction services? If so it is within the bounds of the discussion.
  • Sep 24 2012: Absolutely not. While this question is applicable to tobacco and alcohol corporate giants, I think we should not overlook street pharmacists. I am from North County St Louis and my city faces a heroine epidemic. A neighbor 10 houses down whom I've known for several years overdosed on heroine a week ago; almost ending his life. Had he not gotten the immediate treatment he needed he would have been another number on the list of drug related fatalities. This is a double sided coin because the dealers themselves typically run their business to support an addiction of their own. So not only are they profiting on the degradation of the health of others they are in turn using it to self destruct themselves. There were roughly 80-100 heroine related deaths in St Louis in 2011 and while that number has gone down in the first six recorded months of 2012, the problem persists. However it goes deeper than the deaths of these unfortunate victims. Dealers are not just profiting from the addiction of abusers, they are taking something far greater than the money that is attained at any cost. They take a part of their soul. Heroine consumes their life - it is a never ending cycle of waiting. Waiting for the drug to arrive, waiting for the intravenous dose to take effect, waiting for the pain and withdraw to subside only to come back with more force and hunger. I know good people that have recovered from this pain and maintain a pure lifestyle. It can be done. But still it hurts me to know that drug money soaked in pain, desperation and addiction is being used to buy food, prepaid phone minutes, cigarettes and more narcotics to feed the vicious cycle.