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Alberta Government Divests Tobacco Stocks

Ottawa – October 20, 2011

Alberta moves away from tobacco investments

Health group calls for other governments to protect health and protect
pension investments by adopting investment policies against tobacco stocks.

PSC welcomes today the news that the Alberta government had directed the
Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) to sell-off its direct
ownership of tobacco companies.

“Government investments in tobacco companies are wrong-headed on many
fronts,” explained Cynthia Callard, PSC’s executive director. “The initial
share offerings provide tobacco companies with the resources to expand their
markets and harm new communities. Continued shareholdings push tobacco
companies to generate profits through sustained or increased sales.”

PSC has long called for all government investment boards, and especially the
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, to stop investing in tobacco
companies.  This position is supported by the Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control, to which Canada is party. The FCTC directs governments to
protect public health from tobacco industry interference and recommends that
no state agency be involved in tobacco company ownership outside of state

“The Alberta government deserves praise for being the first Canadian
government to acknowledge, however tacitly, that part-ownership of
profit-seeking tobacco companies is inconsistent with its responsibility to
protect health,” said Callard.

A PSC review of institutional ownership of tobacco stocks last year found
that Canadians owned more than $2 billion in tobacco industry shares of the
4 largest companies, and received more than $90 million in dividend payments
from the profits of tobacco sales, including at least $36 million from sales
in developing countries. About 25% of these shareholdings were direct
ownership by investment firms under government control.

“Many countries do not put pension funds in any form of stock market
investment. Those that do should follow the example of Norway, New Zealand
and Alberta and ensure that  pension investments do not worsen the global
tobacco epidemic.”

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