The United Nations has launched the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, which encourages lending, insurance, and investment companies to adopt tobacco-free finance policies that are in line with the UN and the World Health Organization.
“Addressing the financing of tobacco companies—across lending, insurance and investment—is essential to comprehensive global tobacco control efforts,” says the pledge. “The finance sector can play a positive role in addressing global health priorities, such as the tobacco epidemic.”
The pledge, which was created by Bronwyn King, an oncologist and CEO of Tobacco Free Portfolios, has 93 founding signatories and 36 supporters representing more than $5 trillion in assets under management. Founding signatories include ABN-Amro, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Aegon, Swedish pension fund AP4, AustralianSuper, BNP Paribas, and ING.
The pledge aims to highlight financial institutions that have implemented tobacco-free finance policies, and encourage others to do the same; persuade the finance sector to play an active role in addressing global priorities; and de-normalize financial and corporate associations with tobacco companies, among other objectives.
The UN pledge defines tobacco companies as any company that manufactures complete tobacco products, regardless of how much of the company’s overall operations this represents.
The UN is calling on pension and superannuation funds, sovereign wealth funds, banks, insurance and reinsurance companies and intermediaries, investment managers, asset consultants, endowment funds, foundations, and advisors to sign the pledge.
Those who sign the pledge are committing to:
- Collaborate to raise awareness of the issue of lending to, investing in, and insuring tobacco companies.
- Encourage the adoption of tobacco-free finance policies across lending, investment and insurance.
- Encourage the alignment of lending, investment, and insurance policies with that of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
- Consider forming or supporting partnerships to promote tobacco control initiatives.
- Support activities that build knowledge and understanding of tobacco-free finance.
- Encourage more organizations to become signatories to or supporters of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge.
- Gather again in two years with an expanded global network committed to the TobaccoFree Finance Pledge.
“With 7 million deaths worldwide each year, and a forecast of 1 billion deaths this century due to tobacco-related illnesses,” says the pledge, “global and multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed to tackle the devastating impact of tobacco.”