Leveraging public finance to achieve endgame for tobacco - possible national and global strategies
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International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A608
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Calls for institutional investors to divest (sell off) tobacco stocks threaten the industry´s share values, publicise its bad behaviour, and label it as a politically unacceptable ally. The rise of the socially responsible investment movement, increasing litigation against major tobacco companies, and an increasing emphasis on tobacco industry delegitimisation as a tobacco control strategy created a climate within which tobacco divestment was open for serious discussion.

This survey enquired from 19 environment (including groups working against GHGs, asbestos and Big Oil), social and development sectors (groups working on IFC exclusion criteria) on the role of public finance, and the arguments to support divestment from "sin" or exclusion sectors.

In general the respondents to this survey presented the the following arguments which support divestment:
Global obligations to the WHO´s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and the other global treaties like the SDG.
• Ethical argument: Governments and their agencies that hold public funds can no longer support tobacco control and tobacco industry.
• Fiscal argument: high costs of national and global litigations make companies, public funded organisations and governments prone to heavy litigation costs and potential costs for damages
• Public health argument: Because tobacco industry continue to hold important policy positions, they block and interfere tobacco control efforts.

To begin a campaign for divestment would require preliminary work by civil society institutions which includes:
Tracking and monitoring institutions and investments
• Collaborating with organisations which advocate for ethical or socially responsible investments.
Developing a policy research and advocacy roadmap with stakeholders towards and end date for divestment

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