Are All Businesses Business-Like?

To increase profitability Reynolds America, the second largest U.S. tobacco company, introduced a new product – snus. Snus is a tiny, tea-bag-like pouch of tobacco that’s tucked between cheek and gum. It was invented in Sweden, but has been banned by all other European Union nations since 2004 because of carcinogen concerns. Although researchers say snus would cut down on lung and heart disease, it could increase lesions and pancreatic cancer. Although Reynolds says no secondhand smoke or spitting makes snus a win-win product, its claim that snus is a safe alternative to cigarettes and snuff is still a lot to swallow.

Deer hunting is already a profitable business. The 10 million deer hunters in the U.S. represent 80% of the annual $ 20 billion spent on hunting. That has led to a new business – deer smuggling. Although Texas has 1,100 licensed deer breeders with 87,000 deer, some Texas hunting reserves try to buy cheaper stock out-of-state. That’s illegal because out-of-state deer could carry diseases like chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis. Because of health risks to both bred and wild animals, Texas regulators want to increase the penalty for smuggling from a misdemeanor to a felony. They want these smugglers to pay “deerly”.

Not all businesses, however, have to be profitable to be successful. “Food Runners”, a San Francisco non-profit, was started 20 years ago by a woman who believed there’s enough food for everyone if it’s redistributed. Today Food Runners has a paid coordinator who handles calls and arranges pickups from restaurants and hotel kitchens using trucks donated by UPS. There’s also a team of 450 volunteers who use their own cars to make pickups from individuals and farmers’ markets. Two thousand pounds of food a week are delivered to shelters and group homes – and Food Runners doesn’t plan to slow down.

The U.S. Postal service is a business that has slowed down. Because people are increasingly communicating by e-mail and paying bills online, there were 8 billion fewer letters mailed in 2008 than in 2001. Because postage is the sole source of income for the Postal Service, it lost $ 2.8 billion in 2008. To save money 4,000 of the 204,000 blue collection boxes across the country have been eliminated. Less blue boxes means less miles for postal workers to drive, which means less fuel cost. Eliminating the boxes is the Postal Service’s attempt to feel less financially boxed in.

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