The statement, issued in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day on 31 May, endorsed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) position that tobacco is a “threat to development”.
AMP Capital, AXA, Californian pension fund CalPERS and French reinsurer SCOR were the leading signatories of the statement, joined by Australian super funds including HESTA, Australian Ethical, Local Government Super, NGS Super and VicSuper.
The statement has been signed by more than 50 institutional investors, health systems, pension funds and insurers representing US$3.53 trillion in assets under management.
The statement, which is addressed to health ministers worldwide and the WHO, addresses “the threat posed by tobacco consumption to global health and economic wellbeing”.
“The campaign aims to highlight the links between the use of tobacco products, tobacco control and sustainable development to encourage countries to include tobacco control in their responses to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and to broaden support and participation in efforts to implement plans that prioritise action on tobacco control,” it said.
The statement cites a statistic from the WHO and the US National Cancer Institute that estimates the cost of smoking to the global economy at US$1 trillion a year.
Principles for Responsible Investment managing director Fiona Reynolds pointed to the regulatory, litigation and supply chain risks associated with tobacco companies.
“Aside from the obvious health issues, investors are increasingly becoming aware of the material financial risks around tobacco,” Ms Reynolds said.
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