Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada

April 03, 2009 09:19 ET

Canada should follow Norway's lead in divesting tobacco stocks

Norway first country to implement treaty guideline to exclude tobacco holdings from public funds.

Attention: Business/Financial Editor OTTAWA--(Marketwire - April 3, 2009) - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) today renewed its call on the Canada Pension Plan and its governing body, provincial and federal Ministers of Finance, to stop using Canada Pension Plan contributions to support the global activities of tobacco companies.

This call came on the same day that Norway announced that it would exclude tobacco companies from the portfolio of its central bank-run Government Pension Fund (often known as the "OIl Fund").

"Norway is the first country to respond to the unanimous decision of more than 160 countries that it is inappropriate for countries which are committed to reducing global tobacco use to be partial owners in commercial tobacco companies," said PSC's executive director, Cynthia Callard.

In November 2008, at the third Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, guidelines were agreed to that

"7.2 Parties that do not have a State-owned tobacco industry should not invest in the tobacco industry and related ventures." [1]

"The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has previously rejected appeals from Pension Plan contributors and health organizations, including ourselves and the Canadian Medical Association, to divest its tobacco holdings," said Ms. Callard. "Although they have altered their investment decisions to respond to other international decisions, like the Mine Ban Treaty, they continue to fuel the spread of tobacco caused disease by underwriting the activities of multinational tobacco companies.

According to the CPPIB's most recent statement of holdings (March 2008), Canadian Pension Plan contributors collectively owned more than $350 million in tobacco stocks. [2]

"We congratulate the Norwegian government for aligning its financial responsibilities with its global health responsibilities," said Ms. Callard. In announcing her government's decision to divest its tobacco stocks, Norwegian Finance Minister, Kristin Halvorsen acknowledged the unique circumstances of tobacco investments by acknowledging that "there's no healthy way to use tobacco."

[1] FCTC Decision on Guidelines, page 13
http://www.who.int/gb/fctc/PDF/cop3/FCTC_COP3_DIV3-en.pdf
[2] CPPIB Public Equity Holdings
http://www.cppib.ca/Results/Financial_Highlights/public_equity.html
IN: FINANCE, HEALTH

Contact Information

  • Cynthia Callard, Executive Director, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada
    Primary Phone: 613-233-4878
    Secondary Phone: 613-850-5594
    E-mail: ccallard@smoke-free.ca