Council keeps its �25 million investment in tobacco as it prepares to run an anti-smoking campaign

CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council will keep its �25 million investment in the tobacco industry, despite the authority being due to take a lead role in an NHS anti-smoking campaign next year.

The money is tied up in the council’s pension fund, and the pension committee is fearful that a change of strategy could put millions of pounds at risk.

Councillor Steve Count of March chairs the Cambridgeshire Local Government Pensions Fund Committee.

He said his committee, made up of representatives of the 174 employers in the fund, decided to retain their tobacco investments which represent 1.6 per cent of the fund.

“This was a hard decision, but it is clear we have a duty to achieve the best return for our members,” he said.

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“If we had decided to alter our strategy, we would run the risk of losing millions of pounds that ultimately would have had to be paid for by tax payers.”

The anti-smoking group Ash has expressed is concern at discovering that councils across the east of England have invested more than �167 million in tobacco companies.

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Martin Dockrell, Ash’s director of research and policy, said: “Despite what some pension managers would have us believe, there is no obligation to invest in the tobacco industry.”

Figures show that Hertfordshire’s �44 million investment in tobacco is the highest in the eastern counties and Buckinghamshire has the lowest amount invested, at �6 million.

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