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Review ordered over Norfolk council tobacco investment

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The council’s pensions committee has called on the head of the fund to report back in September.

The council, along with county councils across the country, is due to take the lead role in NHS anti-smoking drives.

County councils in East of England have invested more than £167m in tobacco.

After the BBC reported on the tobacco investments, Essex County Council, which has invested £9.1m in tobacco firms, said it was also looking at whether to continue investing in tobacco.

‘Thing to do’
Norfolk revealed that it had invested £12.2 in Imperial Tobacco, £10.8m in British American Tobacco, £1.3m in Philip Morris International, £813,000 in Altair Group and £656,000 in Lorimar.

Earlier, Derrick Murphy, Conservative leader of Norfolk County Council and chair of the pension fund committee, said: “What I’ve got to do is get the best deal possible for the people who receive a local government pension from Norfolk.

“We have invested billions of pounds worth of money, having said that – now it (the FOI findings) has been discovered I think it’s a duty to review whether that’s the right thing to do.”

Martin Dockrell, from anti-smoking group Ash, said: “From 2013, local councils will have responsibility for leading local efforts to reduce the burden of death and disease from smoking, yet many of them are the largest tobacco shareholders in the area.”

Mr Dockrell added that ethical investment rules meant fund managers were permitted to say they would only “invest in tobacco when they can prove that there is no other investment that can match the value”.

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