Archive for September, 2012

Norfolk council bosses reject calls to remove £44m from tobacco investments – News – Norwich Evening News

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BBC News – Norfolk Pension Fund tobacco investment to continue

BBC News – Norfolk Pension Fund tobacco investment to continue.

Norfolk’s Pension Fund Committee has decided to maintain its investments in tobacco.  The report it considered was silent on the issue of potential breaches of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, but the Committee has resolved to write to the Government on the whole issue, which is progress of a sort, as committees usually just resolve to continue with tobacco investments.

It will be interesting to see how the Department for Communities and Local Government responds.

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Norfolk Pension Fund’s £44m tobacco investments under spotlight – News – Norwich Evening News

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Take your funds out of tobacco, council urged (From Worcester News)

Take your funds out of tobacco, council urged (From Worcester News).


Opposition councillors moved to take tobacco investments out of this council’s pension fund, but were defeated by the ruling Conservative party councillors. It isn’t clear from the report whether councillors received the views of the Director of Public Health, who would surely point out the inherent contradiction of investing in the companies that kill more people prematurely in Worcestershire than anything else, when next April this council becomes responsible for improving the health of the population.  Let’s be clear – owning shares in these companies means the council is complicit in the smoking attributable deaths that result.

I would also like to know whether the council’s legal officer has offered advice on the council’s obligations under article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the guidelines to which state quite expressly that no branch of government (which includes councils) shall invest in tobacco companies.  Doing so appears to place the UK in breach of international law!

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Marin Voice: Marin pension plan should unload its tobacco investments – Marin Independent Journal

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No future? End the Future Fund’s affair with Big Tobacco

No future? End the Future Fund’s affair with Big Tobacco.

This is an excellent article calling for the Australian Future Fund to withdraw from tobacco investments, and provides a useful summary of funds in Australia and elsewhere that have banned tobacco from their portfolios.  There is also a Bill before Parliament which would ban the Future Fund from investing in tobacco.

It seems that as in the UK there are powerful financial community interests that seek to retain the freedom to invest in whatever they see fit.  Such a position is incompatible with the FCTC  obligations of the Australian state, so something has to give.  Let’s hope the Australian Government once again shows firm leadership in the battle against tobacco.

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How Russia’s Anti-Tobacco Laws Will Impact Philip Morris — Trefis

How Russia’s Anti-Tobacco Laws Will Impact Philip Morris — Trefis.

and the other big tobacco companies.   This week we have seen France and Russia take major steps against tobacco companies, and India expressing strong interest in adopting he sort of plain packs that Australia will introduce later this year.

Tobacco control initiatives are clearly accelerating around the world as the world wide web enables policy makers to find out about and  implement evidence-based policies that are proving successful elsewhere, in recognition of the fact that tobacco places a huge financial burden on the economy, not just through long term health care, but lost productivity.

The World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is proving more and more influential.  Traditionally, economic ministries have been the friends in government of big tobacco, but the realisation that tobacco imposes huge net costs on the economy means that finance ministers are now much less willing to listen to Big Tobacco and its lobbyists.

Unfortunately many business organisations at national and international level still treat the tobacco industry as one of their own.  I predict that in just a few years being associated with Big Tobacco in any way will be  bad business.   As the industry is predicted to kill one billion people this century (that isn’t a typo  -ONE BILLION) without effective tobacco control,  the backlash will surely come.

Tobacco shares have taken a beating this week.  Time to sell up, pension funds?

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