Archive for August, 2013

Northern Ireland tobacco investments

I’ve been checking the scale of investments by the Northern Ireland Local Government Pension Scheme, using their published list of shareholdings dated 31 March 2013.  Note that this does not include any bond holdings or pooled investments.  Here are the numbers:

  • Company                              Equity             Valuation
  • Altria                                      76,300            £1,726,553
  • British American Tobacco     1,703,168      £60,070,735
  • Huabao Intl                            603500          £172,031
  • Imperial Tobacco                   485,478         £11,156,284
  • Japan Tobacco Intl                 337,200         £7,085,826
  • Lorillard                                 96,990           £2,576,08
  • Philip Morris Intl                   47340            £2,890,706
  • Total valuation     £85,678,843

This is around 2% of the total fund valuation.

Meanwhile around 2300 people in Northern Ireland are killed every year by smoking.  To put that into perspective the number of people killed in the troubles was under 3600 in total.

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Midlands council pension pots put into tobacco firms « Express & Star

Midlands council pension pots put into tobacco firms « Express & Star.

See the last comment in this piece, and ask yourself one question.  If the local authority invests substantial sums into tobacco companies, whose objective is to maximise sales and profits, does that undermine the public health work of the local authorities whose aim is to reduce smoking prevalence?  I submit the answer is a resounding yes.  You cannot invest in the companies that kill thousands in the West Midlands every year with their products and be credible with your campaigns to reduce smoking in the population at the same time.


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Tobacco groups blast Australia tax rise –

Tobacco groups blast Australia tax rise –

Australia has announced plans to increase tobacco tax by 12.5% every year for the next four years, to the fury of tobacco companies.  The public health evidence base clearly shows that step change  tax increases are most effective at reducing smoking prevalence, and they should also limit the ability of the tobacco companies to raise the underlying price.

It will be interesting to see if other countries follow suit, either taxing at the retail level as in Australia, or hitting monopoly profits of the likes of Imperial Tobacco in the UK at the corporate level.  The latter might be particularly attractive to the UK Chancellor in the run up to the next general election, as like Australia he seeks additional revenue streams without risking alienating voters.  One doubts Lynton Crosby will be advocating this policy, but George Osborne harbours no doubts about the nature of tobacco companies, as his famous quote makes clear:

“One comes to the conclusion that you are either crooks or you are very stupid, and you do not look very stupid…”

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