Tracking investments by financial institutions in tobacco companies (2007-2016) - what tobacco control advocates need to know and do about it?
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International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A679
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Roughly €4.1 trillion in assets and investments are managed by socially responsible investment (SRI) funds worldwide which motivate institutional investors to take a more stringent view on ethical investing. Ethical investing precludes not investing in tobacco industry or its stocks. Tobacco is a cross-cutting area where such investments are forbidden. Tracking investments made by governments and private financial investors in the tobacco sector can influence in mitigating the proliferation of the industry in the future.

Intervention or response:
This research examines investments made by the largest private banks in the world during 2007-2016 including those which conform to Global SRI standards using customised, paid-for banking databases (

Results and lessons learnt:
The analysis finds that in 2007, 42 of the top 50 global bank invest and support tobacco industry domestically and in offshore projects. However in 2016, this has reduced to 38 banks, with one bank which despite a tobacco exclusion policy had defaulted.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
Definition of socially responsible investments within the perspective of screening tobacco investments is perceived variably by financial institutions. Also in the absence of a watchdog institution and few disincentives for truant behaviour, investors continue to invest tobacco companies. Tobacco control advocates need to monitor investments made by large lending banks and financial institutions in tobacco industry and ensure that banks which have committed to SRI codes conform to them.