December 28, 2012

2012 August 20 – Governments urged to follow ACT and drop investment in tobacco

Governments urged to follow ACT and drop investment in tobacco Health leaders have hailed the ACT government decision to exclude investment in tobacco companies, and have urged other Australian governments to follow suit. ACT has become the first Australian government to exclude companies that make cigarettes, cluster bombs or land mines from its government investments.

A Senate committee report will be released this week, following public input on a similar plan to prevent Australia’s Future Fund from investing in tobacco, mines and nuclear weapons. The Future Fund currently invests around $210m in tobacco companies.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia, the Heart Foundation, the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) and the Australian Lung Foundation are urging the Future Fund and other state and territory governments to adopt ethical guidelines and follow the leadership set by the ACT. Says Anne Jones, Chief Executive of ASH: “The ACT government decision to exclude tobacco from its $2.3b super fund shows socially responsible policies can balance the need for proper returns with good governance. “It acknowledges that while tobacco is a legal product, it’s uniquely lethal and addictive, and tobacco manufacturers have a shameful history of irresponsible and deceptive conduct. “Australian public money should not be invested in an industry that kills over five million a year, including 15,000 Australians, drains $31b from our economy and undermines health policies. “Government investment should be consistent with long-term best interests of the community, and in line with international best practice.”

Heart Foundation tobacco spokesperson Maurice Swanson says: “Excluding tobacco from government investments will help Australian governments meet their international treaty obligations under the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “Responsible investment is now commonly considered best practice, and its returns have matched those of mainstream investments.” Government funds in Norway and NZ, and Australian super funds – UniSuper and First State Super – have already screened out tobacco investments because of concerns about treaty commitments and the industry’s litigation risks and uncertain regulatory future. The Tasmanian Government also has no tobacco investments.

Canberra Times 20/8/12 at www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/no-act-funds-for-cigarette-makers-20120819-24gxf.html

More at www.ashaust.org.au – “Tobacco Investment”

Comment:

Anne Jones OAM, ASH Australia m. 0417-227-879

Maurice Swanson, Heart Foundation m. 0401-090-915

Media info: Stafford Sanders Ph. (02) 9334-1823 m. 0412-070-194