Cambridgeshire County Council urged to rethink �25million investment in tobacco industries

AN ACTION group has condemned Cambridgeshire County Council for investing in tobacco industries to plump up pension funds.

The council, which oversees the Cambridgeshire Local Government Pension Scheme Fund, has �25million invested in tobacco firms and are being urged to reconsider their investments by anti-smoking campaigners Action on Smoking and Health.

“It can be argued that there is an ethical and moral issue but purely on financial grounds we would question the assumption that tobacco is a good source of investment now as smoking is decreasing – not only in the west but in other parts of the world,” an ASH spokesman said.

“It’s on those grounds we would urge local authorities to rethink their investment in tobacco.”

A council spokesman said: “A very, very small percentage of holdings in the Cambridgeshire pension fund – 1.9 per cent – is invested in tobacco companies.

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“We have a responsibility to taxpayers to make sure that money invested attains the maximum level of return within an acceptable degree of risk.

“The trustees of the Pension Fund have a single objective, which is to maximise returns to meet the fund’s pension liabilities, and therefore reduce the cost to taxpayers.”

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Despite the authority’s reassurances the Lib Dem county council health spokesman refutes the council’s stance.

Councillor Caroline Shepherd said: “Given the council’s new responsibility for public health and the strategic health risk posed by smoking, it is strange that the Conservatives see fit to hold �25m in cigarette companies.

“The Cambridge University Pensions fund has no investments in tobacco firms, which only goes to show that investment choices can be made.”

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