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April 30th, 2013:

Tobacco display ban in large shops comes into force

28 April 2013 Last updated at 23:01 GMT

Cigarettes displayed in cabinet

Cigarettes can no longer be displayed in Scottish shops

A ban on the display of cigarettes and other tobacco products in large shops in Scotland has come into force.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the move will help prevent young people from taking up smoking.

Under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, the sale of cigarettes from vending machines is also banned.

Stores that do not comply could be convicted of a criminal offence or receive a fixed penalty fine.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland have already brought in similar bans to prevent large stores from displaying cigarettes and tobacco.

The Scottish government’s Tobacco Control Strategy also supports the introduction of standardised packaging.

‘Right step’

Mr Matheson said: “These bans are the right step to prevent young people in Scotland from taking up smoking.

“It is well known that smoking is associated with a range of illness and is the primary preventable cause of ill health and premature death. Each year, tobacco use is associated with over 13,000 deaths and 56,000 hospital admissions in Scotland.

“That is why it is so important that this government works to improve health by reducing the number of people who choose to smoke and evidence shows that young people exposed to the promotion of tobacco are more likely to try smoking.”

The move has been welcomed by Cancer Research Scotland but the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) – which represents more than 26,000 shopkeepers across the UK – has argued against the legislation.

And the Scottish Grocers’ Federation said it will mean longer transaction times at the till and confusion over pricing.

It also believes the new laws will not make any difference and that smokers will still smoke.

John Drummond, from the federation, told BBC Scotland: “We think it’s unnecessary. We don’t believe that displays of cigarettes behind the counter actually influences anyone to buy cigarettes.

“There is no doubt that smoking can be harmful but it’s a legal practice.

“We stock it, sell it, and will continue to do so.”

Large shops are defined as those with a relevant floor area exceeding 280 square metres.

Smaller retailers have until 6 April 2015 to comply with the display ban.

Smoking in vehicles

Meanwhile, a consultation on proposed legislation to ban smoking in vehicles when children are present is to be launched by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume.

Mr Hume said such a ban has already gained support from a number of charities, including Children in Scotland and the British Heart Foundation.

The South of Scotland MSP will launch the consultation on proposals for his Members Bill next month.

He said banning adults from smoking in cars when children are present is the next step in tobacco control.

“Passive smoking is entirely avoidable and a private vehicle is one of the few places a child can still be legally exposed to tobacco smoke,” he said.

“I stand alongside the British Heart Foundation, British Lung Foundation, Children in Scotland and ASH Scotland, among many others, in seeking a change to the law and hope that people and organisations from across Scotland can take part in this important consultation.

“It doesn’t seem fair that any child should have to be trapped in a car which is filled with smoke. When you consider the real implications this can have for a child’s immediate and future health, it is clear we need to do what we can to protect children and give them the best start in life.”

Ending government and super fund investment in tobacco

ASH, ACOSH and partners are working to end investments in tobacco companies by Federal, State and Territory government investment funds and by major superannuation and other funds.

THE CASE FOR TOBACCO DIVESTMENT … and counter-arguments

including ASH factsheet        TAKE ACTION

Why we should end investment in tobacco
2p factsheet


Global noose tightens on big tobacco
March 2013:  Laws and regulations tighten on the tobacco industry worldwide, not just in wealthier countries. Wall St analyst weighs the industry’s shaky future. Tobacco Unfiltered 15/3/13

SunSuper divests from tobacco
March 2013: Another superannuation fund, SunSuper, will divest its $54m tobacco stocks after a regular investment review. ASH comment in  Ethical Investor 26/3/13 – and see who else has divested


Why shouldn’t Australian governments and funds
invest in tobacco companies?

1. Investing in tobacco is contrary to the National Tobacco Strategy 2012-18.
This strategy, agreed to by all nine Australian Federal, State and Territory governments, commits them to implement the FCTC treaty article on preventing tobacco industry interference – including not investing in tobacco. NTS 2012-18 pp. 14-15; FCTC Art. 5.3 guidelines

2. Investing in tobacco is against the public interest.
World Health Organization points to “irreconcilable conflict of interest” between the tobacco industry and public health. Tobacco is a uniquely harmful, addictive product, world’s No.1 single preventable cause of disease – annual death toll 5m+ including 15,000+ Australians.

3. Investing in tobacco is socially irresponsible.
The tobacco industry has aggressively undermined tobacco control strategies for decades worldwide, with a history of illegal activities and using deceptive and misleading conduct and targeting children. It contributes significantly to poverty and disease worldwide, undermining health policies, aid efforts.

4. Investing in tobacco undermines Australian treaty commitments.
Australia as one of 170+ Parties to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has legal obligations to protect health policies from tobacco industry interference. Article 5.3 Guidelines state “Government institutions and their bodies should not have any financial interest in the tobacco industry, unless they are responsible for managing a Party’s ownership interest in a State-owned tobacco industry” (4.7).
FCTC Article 5.3 guidelines

5. Responsible investment is good business.
Morningstar reports Australian share funds investing ethically produced 4.65% average annual return in 5 years to July 31, 2010, against 4.21% for mainstream share options. Superannuation researcher SuperRatings says super funds’ ”sustainable” Australian share options have outperformed mainstream Australian share options over past five years. Responsible Investment Association Australasia reports: “Responsible investment is now commonly considered to be ‘best practice’ as consideration of ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance] factors is seen to assist in the management of investment risks.”
Ethical investment performance discussed further in Morningstar video 15/10/12

6. Divesting in tobacco has community and investor support.
Australian survey of  800+ current pension fund members showed two-thirds objected to their funds being invested in an industry seen as unethical, promoting ill health. Survey

7.  It’s part of a worldwide trend.
Government funds in Norway, NZ, five US states and several Australian superannuation and other funds have already screened out tobacco investment – citing concerns about treaty commitments and tobacco’s litigation risks and uncertain regulatory future.

8.  Investing in tobacco undermines Environmental, Social and Governance principles. TOBACCO INDUSTRY’S RECORD on ESG

Common arguments for investing in tobacco

1. “It’s a legal product.”
Although promoted by the industry as a “legal” product (and therefore investment), it’s a unique product in killing half its long-term users when used as intended. Tobacco and other legal products have been excluded from investment options because of treaty conflict or social irresponsibility. The tobacco industry has a long history of illegal, deceitful conduct.

2. “A fund’s duty is to its investors”
The duty of an investment fund is to maximise returns for its members/investors – subject to their directions and in line with best practice. Long-term best interests may not be consistent with short-term return. Funds are right to consider concerns about investing in tobacco – conflicts with treaty obligations, conflicts of interest, litigation liabilities, and the industry’s uncertain regulatory future.

3. “Funds should be independent, free of political interference.”
Funds properly follow guidance from their investors (government or members) as to best practice, including complying with ESG principles and/or treaty obligations. Tobacco should not be singled out for exemption from such guidance.

4. “Tobacco is a good investment”
The tobacco industry has been described as “a sunset industry”, its long-term future in doubt. UniSuper has screened tobacco out of its its investment options because “long tail litigation liabilities and uncertain regulatory future…. presented investment risks which warranted the exclusion of tobacco stocks.” UniSuper FAQs


SunSuper divests from tobacco
March 2013: Another superannuation fund, SunSuper, will divest its $54m tobacco stocks after a regular investment review. ASH comment in  Ethical Investor 26/3/13 – and see who else has divested

Move for Vic and Tas governments to dump tobacco stocks
February-March 2013: Greens will move for the Victorian and Tasmanian governments to exclude tobacco from all its investments, following the decision by the federal government’s Future Fund to divest from tobacco. Greens Vic release 28/2/13 and  Greens Tas release 4/3/13

Future Fund goes tobacco-free!
February 2013: Australia’s Future Fund announces it is excluding primary tobacco producers from its investments. Health groups welcome the end of the $230m+ investment as restoring consistency with Australia’s health and aid policies.
ASH Aust release 28/2/13 ABC News 28/2/13

Future Fund buys into tobacco company that sees death as a plus
February 2013: Australian government’s Future Fund has bought more tobacco shares, now holds over $230m in tobacco – adding stake in Philip Morris (Czech). CEO Mark Burgess questioned by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale in  Senate Estimates Committee after it’s revealed a Philip Morris-commissioned report told the Czech government in 2001 it was saving them money by causing deaths. Age 13/2/13 ABC news 12/2/13

Tasmania embarrassed over tobacco investment
February 2013: Tasmanian government faces criticism over $27m invested by the state’s Retirement Benefits Fund in tobacco companies Philip Morris, BAT, Imperial, Japan Tobacco, Swedish Match. Labor-Green government accused of hypocrisy by Liberal opposition – but Libs make clear their support for the tobacco investment as “legal”. Health groups says investment inconsistent with health policy, treaty commitments and community attitudes. Mercury 10/2/13

SA excludes investment in tobacco
January 2013: South Australian government fund manager excludes tobacco companies from all investment portfolios – slashing $20m of $29m of total tobacco investment, including by public sector super funds. Health Minister Jack Snelling says Funds SA decision in line with government public health aims, community attitudes. Minister’s release 25/1/13 SkyNews 25/1/13

HESTA super fund dumps tobacco investment
January 2013: Health and community service employees’ super fund HESTA will drop all of its nearly $35m investments in tobacco by around April. The 750,000 member fund responds to members’ and health groups’ view that the investments conflict with health aims. HESTA joins other super funds and government investment funds opting to divest from tobacco as unethical. Report with ASH comment in  SMH 10/1/13 HESTA tobacco-free investment factsheet

NSW drops $224m tobacco investment – ASH urges Fed and Vic funds to follow
2012: ASH welcomes “great leadership” by the NSW government in excluding tobacco from all government investments, direct and indirect. ASH urges the Federal Future Fund and Victorian government to follow.
NSW government release 26/11/12 ASH release 26/11/12

Future Fund says treaty clash is a ground for excluding investment
2012: Future Fund answers Question on Notice in Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee: The Board’s…. framework provides for exclusion from the portfolio where an activity may…. contravene a convention or treaty ratified by Australia…
(Hansard, F&PA question F112, asked 29/10/12) ASH and allies are urging the Fund to end its $210m investment in tobacco partly because Australia has ratified WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – Art. 5.3 Guidelines say “Government institutions and their bodies should not have any financial interest in the tobacco industry, unless they are responsible for managing a Party’s ownership interest in a State-owned tobacco industry”. FCTC Art. 5.3 guidelines

Victoria urged to drop $100m tobacco investment
2012:  Victorian government urged to drop $100m+ investment in tobacco companies via Vic Funds Management Corporation. Health/medical groups including ASH point out that investors via VFMC include Vic Health Department, Transport Accident Commission, Managed Insurance Authority, WorkSafe, Royal Children’s Hospital, Uni of Melbourne. Age 8/11/12 with ASH comment

Future Fund considers its tobacco investment
2012: Future Fund Chair David Gonski faces questions in Senate Estimates hearing. Fund reviews its $210m tobacco investment under revised Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy after strong public concern.
SMH 25/10/12 Widespread calls to end the socially irresponsible and growing investment were led by health groups ASH, AMA, ACOSH, Heart Foundation, Lung Foundation. Tobacco industry’s appalling ESG record and CASE FOR DIVESTMENT

Call for urgent review of growing Future Fund tobacco investment
2012: AMA, Heart Foundation and ASH urge new Future Fund Chair David Gonski to seek urgent review of the fund’s growing unhealthy investment in tobacco – after Senate questioning revealed almost 250m Aussie dollars are now funding tobacco companies via the government fund. AMA, ASH and Heart Foundation release 16/10/12 ABC News 16/10/12 Anne Jones of ASH comments on ABC Radio National 17/10/12

Health leaders call for end to Future Fund tobacco investment
2012: ASH and partners urge Australian parliament to end tobacco investment by Australia’s Future Fund. Senate debates bill to ban tobacco investments by the Fund. Health groups ask government to end the $210b investment by legislation or ministerial direction.
ASH Aust – Heart Foundation – Aust Lung Foundation release 13/9/12 Call for rethink on tobacco investment in Australian Financial Review 12/9/12 Lib Senator Scott Ryan defends tobacco investment in  ABC Drum opinion 12/9/12
No future in tobacco investment:  ANU Law Professor Matthew Rimmer comments in  The Conversation 13/9/12

Senate Committee doesn’t back ethical investment bill
2012:  Senate Standing Committee recommends against Greens bill to set socially responsible investment guidelines for government’s Future Fund, excluding tobacco. Majority report says bill risks “significant adverse consequences” for the Fund, pointing to existing mechanisms that “ensure that the Future Fund adheres to best practice and acts responsibly.” Majority & dissenting reports 23/8/12, submissions/hearings including ASH input

NSW urged to catch up on responsible investment
2012: NSW government urged by health leaders to divest from tobacco stocks as ACT has done (below).
ASH comments in  SMH 21/8/12

ACT leads the way in dropping tobacco investment
2012: ACT government becomes Australia’s first to specifically exclude tobacco from government investment under new responsible investment guidelines. Health leaders  welcome the move, call on Federal and other states and territories to follow.
Canberra Times 20/8/12 ASH and partners release 20/8/12 ACT responsible investment policy NSW urged to catch up:  SMH 21/8/12

Local Government Super excludes tobacco
2012:  Australia’s Local Government Super Fund excludes tobacco from its investment options under new socially responsible investment guidelines. It joins First State and Uni Super (below) in screening out tobacco. Ethical Investor 18/8/12

Tobacco investment bad for Australia, inquiry told
2012: ASH tells Senate Standing Committee Australia’s Future Fund should not invest in tobacco. ASH supports bill to set socially responsible investment guidelines for the Fund, excluding tobacco. ASH CEO Anne Jones tells the Committee barring tobacco investment is consistent with Australia’s treaty commitments, health and aid policies; Future Fund Act; and worldwide best practice. Also addressing the Committee: Future Fund, Finance Dept, Responsible Investment Assoc, Quit Victoria, more.
Senate Standing Committee Inquiry
Transcript 8/8/12 hearing
including ASH, Quit Vic, Future Fund
ASH written submission and  All submissions Comment in Business Spectator 10/8/12

Future Fund details$200m+ investment in death and disease
2012: Future Fund provides details of its investments in tobacco companies – up 40% in a year to $210m and including low-middle income nations like Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Brazil, where the industry uses aggressive tactics and targets children. Examples

Super move: First State Super drops tobacco stocks
2012: Australia’s First State Super fund removes tobacco companies from its investment portfolio – a move welcomed by health leaders.
First State Super release 19/7/12 and   Factsheet

Future Fund defends growing tobacco investment
2012:  Future Fund Managing Director Mark Burgess, along with Finance Minister Wong, questioned by Greens in Senate estimates committee about tobacco investment. Burgess admits the investment now worth $200m+, resists suggestions of ending it as “quasi-political”.
Senate Estimates Hansard 23/5/12 pp. 47-50

States, territories urged to stop investing in tobacco
2012: ASH and partner ACOSH write to all state and territory governments urging an end to tobacco investment. ASH is advised Tasmania has no direct investments and ACT is reviewing its policy. ASH Australia, March-June 2012

Federal Government under pressure over Future Fund tobacco investment
January 2012: Gillard Government reported to be under pressure to stop its Future Fund investing in an industry that undermines the government’s health policies. Melbourne Age 9/1/12 Report also mentions that in October 2011 the Canadian state Alberta divested tobacco shares because it was suing the tobacco industry for health costs caused by smoking

Australian health groups seek government tobacco divestment
2011:  Health groups write to Australia’s Prime Minister, Ministers and government’s Future Fund, expressing concerns at over $140m investment in tobacco companies via the Fund, and calling on the investment to end. Responses are inconclusive. Greens introduce bill to end government investment in tobacco.
ASH Australia, 2011

UniSuper excludes tobacco investment
2011: UniSuper tells members it has screened tobacco out of its investment options because “long tail litigation liabilities and uncertain regulatory future…. presented investment risks which warranted the exclusion of tobacco stocks.” UniSuper FAQs – Responsible Investing – tobacco

NSW government under pressure over tobacco investment
2006: NSW government accused of “hypocrisy” for investing in tobacco companies. Then Shadow Health Minister Jillian Skinner says: “I find it hard to… defend a government owning shares in a tobacco company…. one of its primary responsibilities is looking after the health of the population of New South Wales…. I think the Premier…. must sell these shares today.” ABC Radio “World Today” 26/6/06 Mrs Skinner became Health Minister in 2011; but despite written requests for review, NSW government-related entities may still have indirect investment in tobacco companies.

ASH starts ball rolling for super fund divestment
2002:  ASH Australia begins to approach superannuation funds seeking their support for ending investment in tobacco companies. ASH Australia, October 2002


Global noose tightens on big tobacco
March 2013:  Laws and regulations tighten on the tobacco industry worldwide, not just in wealthier countries. Wall St analyst weighs the industry’s shaky future. Tobacco Unfiltered 15/3/13

US state Alberta divests tobacco stocks
2011: Government of US state of Alberta directs its fund managers to sell off direct investment in tobacco companies.  Physicians for Smokefree Canada 20/10/11

Norway: Government pension fund bars investment in tobacco
2010: Norway’s government pension fund can no longer be invested in tobacco companies under new guidelines introduced by the country’s Ministry of Finance. Government follows its Council on Ethics’ recommendations to sell tobacco holdings. Finance Markets 5/3/10

NZ: National super fund divests in tobacco
2007: Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation Fund decides to divest tobacco stocks from its investment portfolios. The Board’s assessment and divestment decision was that the Fund’s investments in tobacco companies is “inconsistent with its responsible investment standards.” NZ Super release 23/10/07

USA: Five state employee super funds have divested in tobacco
2000: California Public Employees’ Retirement System decision to exclude tobacco investment means five US state employee super funds have divested or restricted tobacco holdings. New York Times 29/10/2000

Details under  RESOURCES

  • Australian jurisdictions: Federal (Future Fund, 2013), ACT (2012), NSW (2012), SA (2013).
  • Sovereign wealth funds in Norway, New Zealand and five US states.
  • Australian super funds: HESTA, First State, Local Government Super, UniSuper, Christian Super, SunSuper.
  • Other funds:
    – AMP Capital
    – Australian Ethical Investments
    – Hunter Hall
    – UCA Funds

THE TOBACCO INDUSTRY’S RECORD History of tobacco industry misdeeds

Tobacco companies claim to be “socially responsible” corporations. They reinvent themselves by giving generously to political parties and worthy causes like disaster relief, aid and homelessness. They set up front groups and sponsor ineffective campaigns to reduce tobacco litter, youth smoking and child labour. They run efficient office programs for reducing carbon and waste, and give staff time off to volunteer for charities.

But not only are their products deadly, addictive and marketed to children, the tobacco-growing business has been

Do We Get Sick Like Rats? A New Philip Morris Prize Asks the Crowd

By Adrienne Burke | April 30, 2013, 1:04 PM

It might be surprising to hear a tobacco giant described as a tech innovator. But Philip Morris researchers are pioneering new territory with a crowd sourced approach to checking the accuracy of life sciences data.

In partnership with computational biologists at IBM’s Watson Research Center, Philip Morris’s so-called sbv IMPROVER project creates open challenges to encourage scientists to augment traditional peer reviews of research data. On Monday, Philip Morris launched its Species Translation Challenge, which will award three $20,000 prizes to teams whose results best define how well rodent tests can predict human outcomes.

Similar competitions have emerged in the academic world, but sbv IMPROVER (short for “systems biology verification of industrial methodology for process verification in research” in case you were wondering) is the first that taps the crowd to verify industrial research. An initial challenge last year awarded $50,000 to two Wayne State University researchers who proved best at confirming genetic features that could be considered “diagnostic signatures” for particular diseases.

sbv IMPROVER at a Glance (via

sbv IMPROVER at a Glance (via

Why is a cigarette manufacturer sponsoring such competitions? “Our number one objective is to do something about our dangerous products,” says Philip Morris scientific communications director, Hugh Browne. (The company is known for its periodic candor about such matters, even as it continues to dominate the industry.) From heart disease to cancer to emphysema, the potential consequences of smoking are well known. But not every smoker suffers all or any of those health effects, suggesting that a combination of environmental and genetic factors lead to disease.

To understand precisely how smoking and chewing tobacco leads to complex interactions in a user’s biological systems, “Philip Morris is increasing its investments into systems biology,” Browne says. The company is looking at networks of genes, proteins, and biochemical reactions to identify the exact biological mechanisms perturbed by smoking.

But such biological data is notoriously complex to analyze. The profession as yet lacks any standard methodology for verifying results, and traditional peer-review methods have “struggled with the volume and complexity of the data,” according to Philip Morris.

IMPROVER breaks research workflows into components and asks the crowd to apply its own computational methods to verify results. IBM computational biologist Gustavo Stolovitsky says the project “provides an excellent platform on which to test and develop some of the most cutting-edge approaches to the analysis of high-throughput biological data.”

The 2012 IMPROVER challenge asked participants to identify signs in a patient’s set of transcribed genetic material that could be relied on to diagnose any of four diseases associated with smoking: psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. Competitors looked at clinical data from patients—some of it licensed from third parties and provided by Philip Morris; some from the public domain.

More than 50 teams worldwide competed in the challenge that the Wayne State researchers won. Says Ajay Royyuru, director of IBM’s Computational Biology Center in Yorktown Heights, NY: “There was a refreshing variety of competitors.” The most successful applied fundamental understanding of biology “rather than brute force machine learning,” or automated big-data analysis methods. “Some came at it from a mathematical modeling approach, others came from biology, and others combined those,” he continues. (The Wayne State team comprised a bioinformaticist and a perinatal researcher.) Royyuru adds that the challenges can provide young scientists without scientific publications under their belt with a way to get recognition, and computational biology startup companies with a way to showcase what they can do.

A team of IBM computational biology experts scored entries, and a five-man outside panel reviewed the scores. While no single team identified the data perfectly, the leading methods, considered in the aggregate, performed exceptionally well, Royyuru says.

The new challenge launched this Monday seeks to determine if gene expression pathways identified in rodents will predict the same in humans. Scientists typically rely on them to study the impact of products on consumers, even though it remains unclear how well rodent results translate to humans.

Four sub-challenges ask participants to determine 1) if the way signaling pathways in one species react to a given stimulus really predicts similar response in another species, 2) which biological pathway functions and gene expression profiles are most parallel in rodents and humans, 3) how much that depends on the nature of the stimulus or data type collected, and 4) which computational methods are most effective for inferring responses between species.

Competitors will get access to about 5,000 human and rat samples Philip Morris generated for the challenge, and will look at 57 stressors to a single cell line exposed at different time points.

Browne suggests that the IMPROVER approaches for verifying results could be useful as well in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, nutrition, and environmental safety industries. And Royyuru sees the project as a step toward creating “a verification methodology that will become routine industry practice.” Who knows how Philip Morris might utilize the outcomes? For better or worse, they may seek to create safer tobacco products.