Wirral Council takes stance against cigarette industry while pension fund invests millions in tobacco giants

Council takes stance against cigarette industry while pension fund invests millions in tobacco giants

Council takes stance against cigarette industry while pension fund invests millions in tobacco giants

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WIRRAL Council is set to sign a binding declaration committing itself to resist “the vested interests of the tobacco industry” - while at the same time administering a pension fund investsing tens of millions in global tobacco giants.

A meeting this week saw councillors consider a proposal to sign the local government “Declaration on Tobacco Control.”

This commits councils to a raft of anti-smoking measures, including raising the profile of the harm caused by cigarettes.

The declaration also carries a clause which says the authority will: “Protect our tobacco control work from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry by not accepting any partnerships, payments, gifts and services, monetary or in kind or research funding offered by the tobacco industry to officials or employees.”

Wirral is the administering authority for the £5bn Merseyside Pension Fund, which has more than £80m invested in cigarette manufacturing companies, including Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco.

Pressure has been applied for the cash to be withdrawn – one leading anti-smoking group has branded it “completely inappropriate.”

Since last April, the council has held responsibility for public health, making pension fund links to tobacco stocks seem even more surprising.

But Fiona Johnstone, Wirral’s director of public health, said today: “The link between reduced life expectancy and the effects of tobacco use are clear.

“Tobacco use is a major cause of debilitating long-term health conditions and health inequality.

“Agreement will ultimately be down to members, but we see our commitment to this declaration as the next step in the council’s continued attempts to address all aspects of tobacco control.

“This approach will include continued discussions with Merseyside Pension Fund about their investment portfolio."

Peter Wallach, head of the Merseyside Pension Fund, said: “The local authority has separate, statutory responsibilities for both public health and pensions, and both operate within their own legal frameworks.

“The issue remains under active consideration by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, which is a collaboration of 55 local authority pension funds around the country.

“This is an issue for pension funds up and down the country, not just Merseyside."

He said the forum has held meetings with tobacco industry executives and "continues to explore ways to reflect the concerns of the directors of public health in the activities of the forum and its members.”

Tobacco Free Futures - a group financed by public health cash to cut smoking – sent a letter in 2013 to the five Merseyside authorities which contribute to the fund asking them to reconsider.

A spokeswoman said at the time: “It is completely inappropriate that local authority pension funds are associated with tobacco stocks and an industry that ultimately kills half of all its long-term users."

Comments (12)

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3:57pm Thu 30 Jan 14

bigfoot says...

Probably a question of 'do as we say,not as we do'
Probably a question of 'do as we say,not as we do' bigfoot
  • Score: 3

4:13pm Thu 30 Jan 14

naughtykitties says...

Smoker here. I've been told for the last twenty years I'm consuming deadly poison. I've got the message. Shouting it at me even more isn't going to magically make me change my mind that suddenly decide not to imbibe deadly poison, okay? Maybe the council, in this time of austerity, should spend it's money on doing something else?
Smoker here. I've been told for the last twenty years I'm consuming deadly poison. I've got the message. Shouting it at me even more isn't going to magically make me change my mind that suddenly decide not to imbibe deadly poison, okay? Maybe the council, in this time of austerity, should spend it's money on doing something else? naughtykitties
  • Score: 6

4:54pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

The Council should be more worried about the recent report regarding absence management and the "management style" of its senior managers!
The Council should be more worried about the recent report regarding absence management and the "management style" of its senior managers! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 4

6:44pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Thepleb says...

Are they going to knock down all those smoking shelters they built outside all council buildings??
Are they going to knock down all those smoking shelters they built outside all council buildings?? Thepleb
  • Score: 2

8:33pm Thu 30 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

Tobacco companies like B.A.T. were a favourite of Thatcher, and are growing internationally, foisting their products onto millions of foreigners, creating misery, shortening lives and making £millions for themselves and their greedy shareholders in the process.

Which is very, very sad, but not likely to trouble this council, which despite its so-called "Labour" credentials, is the absolute paragon of a greedy, immoral, grasping, vulture capitalist, with the morals of a rabid skunk.
Tobacco companies like B.A.T. were a favourite of Thatcher, and are growing internationally, foisting their products onto millions of foreigners, creating misery, shortening lives and making £millions for themselves and their greedy shareholders in the process. Which is very, very sad, but not likely to trouble this council, which despite its so-called "Labour" credentials, is the absolute paragon of a greedy, immoral, grasping, vulture capitalist, with the morals of a rabid skunk. PaulCa
  • Score: 3

8:33pm Thu 30 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

The a Council needs to worry about the quality of its services instead of this type of nonsense. All kinds of mayhem going on and they are worried about this. Shambles.
The a Council needs to worry about the quality of its services instead of this type of nonsense. All kinds of mayhem going on and they are worried about this. Shambles. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 5

10:11pm Thu 30 Jan 14

kevin casey says...

Its the old pot kettle situation I suppose none of the sixty six councilors serving smoke at all ! Hippocrits !
Its the old pot kettle situation I suppose none of the sixty six councilors serving smoke at all ! Hippocrits ! kevin casey
  • Score: 2

10:17am Fri 31 Jan 14

reliant22 says...

It does attract attention away from the REAL problems within WBC.
UNQUESTIONABLY HYPOCRITICAL ALL OF THEM!
It does attract attention away from the REAL problems within WBC. UNQUESTIONABLY HYPOCRITICAL ALL OF THEM! reliant22
  • Score: 1

2:50pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Llamedos 1 says...

Couldn't agree more.....Hypocrites the lot of them

By the way PaulCA both Government and the tobacco industry are both trying to regulate the use of e.gigarettes. There is an estimated 1.7 million users and growing rapidly so it is perhaps logical for them to scaremonger the use of such devices. Work out the lost revenue from 1.7 million e.cig users and you can perhaps understand their stance.....nothing to do with health and safety but all about loss of revenue.....yet again hypocrites in government both national and local
Couldn't agree more.....Hypocrites the lot of them By the way PaulCA both Government and the tobacco industry are both trying to regulate the use of e.gigarettes. There is an estimated 1.7 million users and growing rapidly so it is perhaps logical for them to scaremonger the use of such devices. Work out the lost revenue from 1.7 million e.cig users and you can perhaps understand their stance.....nothing to do with health and safety but all about loss of revenue.....yet again hypocrites in government both national and local Llamedos 1
  • Score: 5

4:50pm Fri 31 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

Llamedos. Great post. Got it in one.

There's tidy profits to be made from death, misery and wrecked lives, despite the NHS bills and the bodies piling up. The only thing the abusers, crooks and party donors understand is hard cash, and lots of it.

And rather than go kicking down doors at British American Tobacco, snivelling officials at governments and councils are more likely to wear kid gloves, affect bogus 'concern' for citizens' health, whilst all the while ensuring they get their priorities in order.... and a piece of the £$action while it's going.

Salvation could be here in e-cigarettes....

....but like you say, sod the public's health, what about the wonga.... central gov stand to lose many millions in revenue AND council shares could plummet if they don't regulate and tax any threats.

The future of e-cigarettes is as dodgy as someone on 80 a day.
Llamedos. Great post. Got it in one. There's tidy profits to be made from death, misery and wrecked lives, despite the NHS bills and the bodies piling up. The only thing the abusers, crooks and party donors understand is hard cash, and lots of it. And rather than go kicking down doors at British American Tobacco, snivelling officials at governments and councils are more likely to wear kid gloves, affect bogus 'concern' for citizens' health, whilst all the while ensuring they get their priorities in order.... and a piece of the £$action while it's going. Salvation could be here in e-cigarettes.... ....but like you say, sod the public's health, what about the wonga.... central gov stand to lose many millions in revenue AND council shares could plummet if they don't regulate and tax any threats. The future of e-cigarettes is as dodgy as someone on 80 a day. PaulCa
  • Score: 4

10:10pm Fri 31 Jan 14

Llamedos 1 says...

Paul, they can legislate all they like but as I consider that these devices could well have prolonged or even save my life along with 1.7 million others I will happily break any laws they try and introduce. However their short-sightedness amazes me . If we get to 2 million (and that will not take much longer) in the longer term the NHS will save millions not having to treat patients with lung cancer due to smoking.. And a final point, if you consider the countries that have actually banned their use most people will note that those countries are traditionally high proportional smokers countries.......terr
ified of the revenue loss! as we have said ....HYPOCRITES the lot of them
Paul, they can legislate all they like but as I consider that these devices could well have prolonged or even save my life along with 1.7 million others I will happily break any laws they try and introduce. However their short-sightedness amazes me . If we get to 2 million (and that will not take much longer) in the longer term the NHS will save millions not having to treat patients with lung cancer due to smoking.. And a final point, if you consider the countries that have actually banned their use most people will note that those countries are traditionally high proportional smokers countries.......terr ified of the revenue loss! as we have said ....HYPOCRITES the lot of them Llamedos 1
  • Score: 3

6:52pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Llamedos 1 says...

2 million people on e.cigs (wont be long now) on 20 per day at £8 per packet of 20 is a retail of not far short of £6 billion....whats the government cut of that....think its about 60%. In other words a loss to the government of over £3.5 billion. Is it any wonder why the hypocrites want to legislate on these life saving devices! They couldnt give a monkies about our health...it all about an annual loss of £3.5 billion duty and VAT
2 million people on e.cigs (wont be long now) on 20 per day at £8 per packet of 20 is a retail of not far short of £6 billion....whats the government cut of that....think its about 60%. In other words a loss to the government of over £3.5 billion. Is it any wonder why the hypocrites want to legislate on these life saving devices! They couldnt give a monkies about our health...it all about an annual loss of £3.5 billion duty and VAT Llamedos 1
  • Score: 2

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