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Lincolnshire County Council invests £45m into tobacco firms

https://lincolnshirereporter.co.uk/2019/01/lincolnshire-county-council-invests-45m-into-tobacco-firms/

Tobacco companies have received more than £45 million investment from Lincolnshire County Council’s pension fund.

Figures published for Lincolnshire County Council’s pension committee next Thursday reveal that one company, British American Tobaccoo, is the fifth highest investment for its pension fund.

The council currently has £2.3 billion in the pension fund, up by £62.8 million in July when it sat at £2.1 billion.

The current investment for British American Tobacco sits at £24.1 million – 1% of the total fund.

This is down from £31.9 million noted in July 2018, however the fund stood at £37.6 million (1.7%) in March 2018.

But the fund did start the year at £19.4 million, according to a report in January.

BAT is not the only tobacco investment the council has made, with more than £21 million going to four others:

Phillip Morris – £11,147,705
Imperial Brands – £4,557,627
Altria Group – £5,543,507
Japan Tobacco – £411,943
The council however, says it has “a legal duty to achieve the best rate of return for the 75,000 pension fund members and ensure its long-term future”.

Jo Ray, the authority’s Pension Fund Manager, said: “For this reason, it maintains a wide and varied portfolio, all of which is managed externally.

“The fund managers seek strong, sustainable companies with good all-round credentials.”

Local authorities have a responsibility under the Health and Social Care Act to improve the health of their local population and promoting healthy communities and behaviours.

Lincolnshire County Council carries out a number of Stop Smoking schemes including its smoke free workplace policy.

It also supports the NHS’ One You Campaign and funds the stop smoking service.

According to council figures, in Lincolnshire there are around 106,000 smokers.

In 2017/18, 5,207 people accessed the council’s commissioned stop smoking service (Quit51).

A spokesman added that on top of this there “will be many more people who have quit or cut down using support from pharmacies, GPs and other services”.

In August, a Guardian report revealed that more than £1.7 billion had been directly invested in tobacco company stocks by healthcare providers, fire authorities and schools via UK council pension funds.

Last September, anti-fracking campaign groups 350.org, Platform and Friends of the Earth revealed that in 2016/17, Lincolnshire invested more than £50million in fracking companies including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips.

This time round, the top ten investments equate to around £258.7 million – 10.9% of the total fund.

Royal Dutch Shell is the council’s highest investment at 33.9 million (1.7%) – up from £33 million in July last year.

The full top ten, with their level of investment and the percentage of the pension fund, is:

Royal Dutch Shell – £39.9 million (1.7%)
Microsoft – £33.6 million (1.4%)
Reckitt Benckiser – £29.6 million (1.2%)
HSBC – £24.2 million (1%)
British American Tobacco – £24.1 million (1%)
Unilever – £22.5 million (1%)
Apple – £22 million (0.9%)
Visa – £21.2 million (0.9%)
BP – £20.7 million (0.9%)

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