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Ethics Must Be Global, Not Local

11 de março de 2012


Ethics Must Be Global, Not Local

Marcos Nascimento, MD.

This week will be a board meeting of the Brazil’s regulatory agency ANVISA- in that will address the issue of prohibition / restriction of added sugars, and other substances that give flavor to tobacco and its derivative-products such as cigarettes.
Briefly there are three spots to be discussed at this meeting:
1. The Smoking and its consequences for public health:

→ The Smoking to be associated with more than 50 diseases, is considered the biggest concern of the World Health Organization, causing personal ruin and death on a global scale of the order of 200,000 per year in Brazil and six million people worldwide. 1
→ The addition of sugars and any additives or based mint and other flavors, both known to increase the power of addition of nicotine, by the release of various toxins such as alcetaldeído 2, thereby stimulating the initiation of young and adolescents to tobacco products, especially cigarettes, but also used to smoke cigars, pipes and Narguilé water pipe for example.

2. The version of the Smoking Cessation Industry:

→ The international tobacco industry acts as expected for a company that owns shares in the stock market justifying the profit of your business before their shareholders. For this reason, denies the scientific evidence that sugar increases the addictive power of nicotine.
Moreover, the tobacco industry tries to turn the discussion focus only the economic question about an international commodity and the resulting consequences in the local and international tobacco, haggling over how much the ban on flavorings and sugar can affect Brazilian exports, and concomitantly … The Tobacco Industry’s profit!

3. The Role of the Brazil’s National Sanitary Surveillance Agency-ANVISA:

→ By definition, the regulatory agency was created to defend the interest of the population, ie. the interest of all citizens who pay their taxes and trust that the matters will be always discussed through the ethical stances, taken in the interests of public health, as described in virtual page on the Internet’s own ANVISA (The image below).

ANVISA Mission/ Missão da ANVISA

By involving the damage caused by smoking, the discussion of the Next Tuesday, March 13 address an issue of worldwide concern about human life, and will be mainly on Ethics. But the question here are: what is Ethics?  Can the Ethics of business be adapted according to local rules or should be globally the same ?
Evaluating the arguments of the tobacco industry, it can not figure out how leaders of business organizations can act with a set of principles in their homeland and a different one overseas. In terms of principles, ethics MUST be global and not local!

So what we are discussing here, and what will be discussed in Brasilia next Tuesday (March 13), is whether or not ethics works in the real world.

Ethics in a simple definition of Paulo Coelho: “It is the concern for your neighbor, It’s about how you must to think twice before acting on your own benefit.”

And especially when we are called upon to defend the ethics and rebuild the ruins of the system, we can replace the Human Health values close to the heart and not next to the money.
In short, it is expected that the Ethics attend  at the board meeting of the Brazilian Regulatory Agency -ANVISA, and not just summarize a virtual setting in its’ web page, but that is actually aligned with the real world.

1. WHO – World Health Organization
2. Talhout et al, 2007: sugars in tobacco
3. ANVISA – Web Page
4. Paulo Coelho, free YouTube Video

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