Our vision is for a world free from tobacco. To achieve this, we must address financial investment in tobacco.
To inform, prioritise and advance tobacco-free finance by eliminating tobacco from investment portfolios across the globe.
Through pension schemes, Sovereign Wealth funds, banks and insurers, many are still unknowingly contributing to what the World Health Organisation has described as the ‘global tobacco epidemic’.
This means that people are unknowingly contributing to the world’s number one cause of preventable death.
Financial support of the tobacco industry stands in sharp contrast to global tobacco control initiatives, increased community awareness of the dangers of smoking and the on-going decline of tobacco smoking in developed countries.
You can make a difference by ensuring your finances are tobacco-free. You can write to your pension fund, bank or insurer and ask about their approach to tobacco.
Here’s a sample letter to use:
Why Become Tobacco Free?
Tobacco Stands Alone
There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco. When used as intended, tobacco will have contributed to the early death of two out of three smokers (source). The scale of negative impact of tobacco is profound, causing an estimated seven million deaths per year globally (source). Positive influence of the industry through professional engagement is futile as the only acceptable outcome would be for tobacco companies to cease their primary business.
Numerous international health organisations are actively working with governments of the developing world to enhance tobacco control regulation and reduce tobacco consumption. In addition, major class actions against tobacco companies pose considerable financial risk.
Investment in tobacco companies implies endorsement of the product itself and of the industry as a whole.
Human Rights Abuse
Almost no cigarette can be guaranteed to be free from child labour (source).
The Danish Institute of Human Rights has noted that ‘Tobacco is deeply harmful to human health, and there can be no doubt that the production and marketing of tobacco is irreconcilable with the human right to health. For the tobacco industry, the United Nations' Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, therefore requires the cessation of the production and marketing of tobacco (source).
A Paradigm Shift
In recognition of the global ‘tobacco epidemic’ in 2004 the World Health Organisation established the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the world’s first legally binding health treaty. There are now 181 Parties (source), including the European Union, which makes it one of the most widely embraced treaties in United Nations’ history. Parties have committed to implementing a broad range of tobacco control measures to reduce the number of new smokers and to encourage current smokers to quit, in a global commitment to ending the tobacco epidemic.
For a comprehensive overview of tobacco-free investment as well as an exclusion framework download our Toolkit.
Some Facts About Tobacco
Studies from the USA Department of Health indicate that from 1997 to 2005, the nicotine yield per cigarette has increased. Nicotine is the addictive agent in cigarettes, which makes it more difficult for smokers to quit. Source
The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 10% of smoking-related deaths are due to ‘passive’ smoking, with children and women at greatest risk. Source
A survey of smokers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia shows that the proportion of smokers who agreed or agreed strongly with the statement "If you had to do it over again, you would not have started smoking" was extremely high - about 90%, and almost three quarters of current smokers have shown some interest in quitting. Source
In highly populated, developing countries like Pakistan, lost economic opportunities are severe with up to half of all tobacco-related deaths occurring during the population’s prime productive years.
It has come to the attention of Tobacco Free Portfolios that the 'Foundation for a Smoke-Free World', the foundation funded by tobacco company Philip Morris International, is requesting input from investors on the idea of a 'Smoke-Free Index'.
The Foundation has proposed multiple events via a third party – SustainAbility.
In relation to this initiative, we request that you kindly note the following:
- Tobacco Free Portfolios does not endorse this initiative.
- We stand united with the World Health Organisation, the UN Tobacco Treaty (the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) and other organisations who will not engage with the above-named Foundation (Please see the following World Health Organisation Statement on the Foundation: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/28-09-2017-who-statement-on-philip-morris-funded-foundation-for-a-smoke-free-world and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Statement: https://www.who.int/fctc/secretariat/head/statements/2017/commentary-on-the-launch-of-the-foundation-for-a-smoke-free-worl/en/).
- We consider this initiative to be a direct challenge to the positive impact achieved to date by the finance sector in advancing tobacco-free finance and we strongly advise Signatories of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge not to engage with the Foundation or the proposed initiative.
It is important that we remain united in our approach.