Archive for March, 2012

News & Star | News | Cumbria councils’ millions invested in tobacco

News & Star | News | Cumbria councils’ millions invested in tobacco.

Cumbria County Council is reported as having £8.3m invested in tobacco companies by a local paper.  It sounds like there may be quite a backlash from many councillors which is good news.  ASH has produced very good guidance for local authorities challenging the suggestion that they have to maximise returns without regards to the ethics of the companies they invest in.  Norway and New Zealand have done it successfully with negligible impact on fund performance.  We just need a few councils in the UK to break ranks with the consensus position that returns are all that matter.  Maybe if councillors thought about the return on investment in terms of local lives lost versus the income gained, then they would reconsider.

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Janet Bagnall: A new chapter unfolds in the fight against Big Tobacco

Janet Bagnall: A new chapter unfolds in the fight against Big Tobacco.

Canada’s class action lawsuit against three major tobacco companies begins on Monday, seeking 27 billion dollars in damages.   This article reminds us how the tobacco companies have engaged in racketeering at huge cost to society.

Two of the tobacco companies, Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc. and JTI-McDonald both deny a causal connection between smoking and cancer, despite the wealth of scientific evidence to the contrary, and which was first identified in the early 1950’s.  These two companies are subsidiaries of British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

How can UK local authority pension funds continue to invest in companies that deny the link their products clearly have with causing cancer?   The pension funds claim that they engage constructively with the companies they invest in to pursue socially responsible investment.  Perhaps it is not surprising that the companies deny their products cause cancer, even though the facts are clear.  It is not clear why LAs think they can influence tobacco companies to be responsible organisations.

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Should local councils invest in the tobacco industry? From The Northern Echo

Should local councils invest in the tobacco industry? From The Northern Echo.

A very good piece from journalist Mark Patterson in the Northern Echo (Tyneside area).

Thousands of north east people die prematurely every year from diseases caused by smoking, and smoking is a major contributor to poverty and the largest single contributor to health inequalities.  When councils become responsible for the improvement of public health by law next year, these investments will be untenable.

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