Australia pension fund reviewing tobacco stake

October 25, 2012

The Australian government's pension fund for public servants said Thursday it was reviewing its investment in tobacco shares following the passage of plain packaging laws in a bid to curb smoking.

The Future Fund, which manages some Aus$80 billion in for government workers, said its board had requested a review of tobacco holdings worth Aus219 million in the light of Canberra's new anti-smoking policies.

"We think it's important, particularly given the responsibility for managing such a large pool of capital for the long term, that we take a careful, methodical and considered approach to these kinds of issues," said Future Fund managing director Mark Burgess.

"This work has been started and will include consideration of the cost and implications of exclusion."

Tobacco products in Australia will have to be sold in drab, uniform khaki packaging with graphic health warnings from December 1 after smoking giants lost a High Court challenge to the measures in August.

The fund has come under growing pressure to dump the shares after it was revealed in the Senate last week that new stock worth almost Aus$40 million was being bought at the same time the new policies were being pushed through.

Health groups and the left-wing Greens party have described the investment as inconsistent with public values.

The Australian government estimates there are 15,000 deaths nationally each year from tobacco-related illnesses and that smoking costs more than Aus$30 billion a year in healthcare and lost productivity.

The Future Fund has holdings in major firms including British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Japan Inc and Philip Morris—all of whom were parties to the High Court challenge to Australia's plain packet plan.

It has previously jettisoned holdings on ethical grounds, selling off its stock in 10 defence companies that manufactured cluster munitions and land-mines in 2011.

Similar moves against were taken by the Norwegian government's in 2010.

Explore further: Philip Morris challenges plain packs in Australia

Related Stories

Philip Morris challenges plain packs in Australia

December 20, 2011
Global tobacco giant Philip Morris Tuesday stepped up its legal campaign against an Australian law banning logos and branding from cigarette packs, saying it had taken its case to the High Court.

Australian court defers ruling on tobacco packaging

April 19, 2012
Australian judges hearing a legal challenge to new laws requiring plain packaging for cigarettes deferred their decision Thursday until a later date, yet to be decided.

Philip Morris sues Australia over plain packaging

November 21, 2011
Global tobacco giant Philip Morris said Monday it was suing the Australian government over a new law requiring all cigarettes to be sold in plain packages.

BAT challenges Australia cigarette packaging law

December 1, 2011
British American Tobacco on Thursday launched a High Court challenge against a law that will require plain packaging on cigarettes in Australia, claiming it infringes intellectual property rights.

Australia takes on big tobacco firms in court

April 17, 2012
Australia said it was confident of seeing off a court challenge Tuesday by big tobacco firms over plain-packaging for cigarettes, in a test case being watched by governments around the world.

Recommended for you

Amber-tinted glasses may provide relief for insomnia

December 15, 2017
How do you unwind before bedtime? If your answer involves Facebook and Netflix, you are actively reducing your chance of a good night's sleep. And you are not alone: 90 percent of Americans use light-emitting electronic devices, ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Office work can be a pain in the neck

December 15, 2017
Neck pain is a common condition among office workers, but regular workplace exercises can prevent and reduce it, a University of Queensland study has found.

Regular takeaways linked to kids' heart disease and diabetes risk factors

December 14, 2017
Kids who regularly eat take-away meals may be boosting their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Simulation model finds Cure Violence program and targeted policing curb urban violence

December 14, 2017
When communities and police work together to deter urban violence, they can achieve better outcomes with fewer resources than when each works in isolation, a simulation model created by researchers at the UC Davis Violence ...

One in five patients report discrimination in health care

December 14, 2017
Almost one in five older patients with a chronic disease reported experiencing health care discrimination of one type or another in a large national survey that asked about their daily experiences of discrimination between ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.