Shares in tobacco firms could fall if local authorities pull millions of pounds in investment as they take a lead role in NHS anti-smoking campaigns in April.Whether or not local authorities in England and Wales unite in pulling their investments from tobacco it would seem that the pressure to disinvest will increase enormously after responsibility for anti-smoking campaigns is handed to local authorities this year.
Meanwhile central government's tobacco investment portfolios will no doubt continue unmolested. Actually there is very little mention of them in the press, which seems very focused on local authority tobacco investments. Is this because there is no tobacco investment by central government, or because they are very good at keeping it quiet?
The tobacco control community seems to be trying incrementally to undermine the value of tobacco investments and also the idea that local authorities are required to obtain the maximum return. In this press release from FairPensions, which campaigns for ethical pensions investments, a spokesperson says:
'It's simply not true that the law requires pension funds to ignore their members' ethical views. It's time to move on from this tired old myth: savers who care about where their money is being invested have the right to expect a considered response to their concerns.'
Advocating the withdrawal of millions in tobacco investment is exactly the kind of tactic that the UK doesn't need. But we can expect tobacco control to push for it because their livelihoods depend on attempting to strangle tobacco companies at whatever cost to the community at large.