Financial reporting ethics: accountability

A financial reporter is expected to perform his obligations and portray accountability, which should reflect in one’s report. However, some financial reporters undergo certain unfavorable circumstances that force them to make tough decisions that affect the company. Nevertheless, financial reporters’ actions should reflect ethical conducts. The accountability process proofs an individual capacity to exhibit ethical conducts. For instance, Philip Morris Company agreed to pay differs settlements that summed above $3,000,000, whereby he was faced with ethical challenges when presenting his annual report.
I have to face the ethical issue of reporting that the company is aware of the health hazards of smoking and it knowingly and deliberately hides the dangers of smoking from the users. Admitting responsibility for cancer or death in smokers in the annual report would mean that the company is unethical and it would be subject to litigation and subject to massive fines.
As the CFO, I would report that there are risks to smoking and they include illnesses such as cancer and respiratory diseases. The costs of treatment are borne by third-party health care providers and in they argue that they suffer an economic loss for the prevalence of such diseases. Therefore, the $3 billion payment is treated as a “reimbursement of costs” for the treatment of the illnesses that are linked to smoking.
A negative consequence of not telling the truth would be that the company is that more people will come forward arguing that their illnesses such as lung cancer are a result of smoking Philip Morris cigarette brands. Failure to admit this will result in more smokers suing the company for their illnesses with the claim being that it resulted from smoking the company’s brands. Given that most individuals have reached the consensus that cancer and respiratory diseases are risk factors for smoking, there is a huge probability that the company will be required by law to pay more settlement payments. Another consequence is that the firm will expect tougher legislation to combat smoking, for instance, der Eijk & Porter (2014) point out that there is a proposal that seeks to deny the sale of tobacco to individuals below a certain age with the aim of having “tobacco-free generations.” Such a move is unfavorable for Philip Morris the numbers of smokers is expected to decline to mean that future revenues and profits will be negatively affected.
On the other hand, telling the truth that smoking causes cancer and respiratory related illnesses will result in increased lawsuits which seek to recover the treatment costs for these diseases. The argument would be that the companies deliberately and knowingly sold harmful products to consumers and therefore, they are responsible for all illnesses. Also, the company would be under severe pressure to stop production of cigarettes or develop harmless products, an action that would incur Philip Morris enormous costs and lost revenues.

Milberger, S., Davis, R. M., Douglas, C. E., Beasley, J. K., Burns, D., Houston, T., & Shopland, D. (2006). Tobacco manufacturers’ defence against plaintiffs’ claims of cancer causation: throwing mud at the wall and hoping some of it will stick. Tobacco Control, 15(Suppl 4), iv17–iv26.
van der Eijk, Y., & Porter, G. (2013). Human rights and ethical considerations for a tobacco-free generation. Tobacco control, tobaccocontrol-2013

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