Home > Uncategorized > Local authority pension fund tobacco investments revealed

Local authority pension fund tobacco investments revealed

On Thursday this week I shall be giving a short presentation entitled A Deadly Return on Investment at the Tackling Smoking in the 21st Century conference in York.  The presentation is based on Freedom of Information requests I have made to all English local authority pension funds.  Six have yet to reply, and one has refused and is subject to appeal, but I believe this to be the fullest picture to date of the scale of LA pension fund investments in tobacco.
The excel spreadsheet is available for download below for your information.  As you will see the total of direct investments in the tobacco companies  now exceeds £1.5 billion.  Note that this figure does not include any pooled investments, but it is clear that there are substantial further funds indirectly invested in tobacco through such funds by many LAs.
With the transfer of public health improvement responsibilities to LAs next April there is a very clear conflict of interest between setting local tobacco control policies, including commissioning smoking cessation services, on the one hand, and seeking to maximise financial returns from tobacco investments on the other.  This position would appear to be a contravention of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and is certainly in breach of the guidelines to that article, which expressly bar any branch of government from holding tobacco investments.  The question is will the government act to abide by its obligations under the Treaty?

Local authorities which continue to invest directly in tobacco companies which are responsible for the 80,000 smoking attributable deaths in England each year, need to recognise that they can have no credibility as public health leaders if they maintain these investments.  How can they take responsibility for public health improvement if they have shares in what is still the largest single cause of premature death and also a major driver of health inequalities?  How can they justify to their communities lending money to tobacco companies (in return for bonds) that will be used to addict more young people here and abroad?

You can see the full list here.

Please download from the Scribd site to see all columns easily.

(this scribd link has been amended today due to an upload error which included old data.  Apologies for any confusion arising)

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