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Monday 28th of September 2009
September 26, 2009    

Anti-smoking council invests £12m in tobacco

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by David Masters

Carmarthenshire Council has been slammed for profiting from cancer, disease and death by investing £12 million in cigarette company British American Tobacco (BAT).

The money is from Dyfed Pensions Fund, which pays for the pensions of council workers and councillors in the Welsh counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Church leaders in Carmarthen lambasted the council for investing in tobacco at the same time as running an anti-smoking campaign.

Bernarr Atherton, president of Churches Together in Carmarthen, said making money from cigarettes is morally and ethically reprehensible.

“If the council is saying smoking is bad, it should not be investing money in tobacco companies,” he said.

“In every way, smoking is bad. Smoking leads to cancer and kills people.

“At the end of the day, they’re making money out of smoking.”

The only possible reasoning behind such an investment is “the wish to make a quick profit out of other people’s suffering through cancer, disease and death,” he concluded.

Carmarthenshire Council defended the decision to invest in BAT on the grounds that it is normal for local authorities not to ethically screen investments.

Chris Moore, the council’s head of financial services, said: “There’s no ethical screening in place for the Dyfed Pension Fund.

“The fund’s investment managers have no restrictions on the shares they can purchase on ethical grounds.

“This is the norm for the majority of local authority pension funds.”

In related news, a letter from Sir Richard Branson published today in Wales Online points out that tobacco kills one in two long-term smokers.

Branson said Welsh people should urge their MPs to support legislation to remove cigarettes from sight in shops.

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