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NSW govt bans all tobacco investments

THE NSW government is stubbing out its tobacco investments across the state.

Treasurer Mike Baird says all NSW agencies will be instructed to ban indirect and direct tobacco-related financing following a review of the government’s investment strategy.

Mr Baird says the NSW government does not currently have any direct investments in tobacco, but some of its agencies do.

“A small proportion of NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) and other public-sector agencies do have tobacco investments in their investment portfolios, which have been made by fund managers on their behalf,” Mr Baird said.

Mr Baird said the independent State Super fund operator would be asked to exclude tobacco investments from its investment portfolio and mandates.

TCorp currently holds tobacco investments of around A$27 million, while WorkCover has around A$39 million and State Super has A$158 million, Mr Baird said.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the decision reinforced the NSW government’s strong anti-smoking stance.

“Today’s decision sends a further message to the community about the dangers of smoking and the huge burden that smoking puts on the NSW health system,” Mrs Skinner said.

The anti-smoking lobby group ASH said it welcomed the move by NSW to join the ACT and exclude tobacco companies from investment.

“Australian public money should not be invested in an industry that kills 15,000 Australians (a year and) drains $31 billion from our economy and undermines health policies,” ASH CEO Anne Jones said in a statement.

She said the federal government’s Future Fund, which currently invests around A$210 million in tobacco companies, was reviewing its policies.

Victoria had over A$100 million in tobacco investments and was being urged to do the same, Ms Jones said.

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