News Releases

November 16, 1998

A Guide to Tobacco-Free Mutual Funds

Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (PSC) today urged investors concerned about cigarette smoking to sell their holdings in 114 tobacco companies and 32 major Canadian mutual funds that hold shares in those companies.

The group released a report identifying tobacco-related companies and the major Canadian mutual funds that invest in them to assist investors of conscience who want to avoid involvement with the cigarette industry. The report was made available to the public starting today at http://www.smoke-free.ca on the Internet.

"We believe there are thousands and thousands of Canadians who want to make sure that their investments are not supporting the tobacco industry," said Dr. Atul Kapur, an Ottawa-based emergency physician and PSC director. "That’s why we are providing an internet resource to support tobacco-free investments."

"Unfortunately, most investors don’t know where their money is put. If investors of conscience knew where their investments were made, we’re sure that they would want to pull out of companies and mutual funds involved in tobacco production."

The report was done by Ellmen/Shaw Public Affairs jointly with Michael Jantzi Research Associates and Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini & Co. Inc. of Boston.

Highlights of the report include:

  • There are 114 tobacco companies worldwide;
  • Four of these are publicly-held companies based in Canada (IMASCO, Celanese, Rothmans and Ultimate Cigar);
  • More than half the mutual funds studied held tobacco-related investments in their portfolios;
  • The value of these tobacco-related holdings amount to $1.22 billion, or 1.65% of their total assets.

In releasing the report, PSC made the following recommendations:

  • Investors concerned about the health effects of smoking should consider divesting their shares in these companies and their units in mutual funds holdings these shares;
  • Investors who don’t want to divest, but want their funds to avoid holding these investments should ask their funds to sell their tobacco-related securities in a timely manner;
  • Mutual funds should demand that tobacco-related holding companies spin off their tobacco interests to ensure that investors have a choice between holding tobacco and non-tobacco companies.

Kapur said tobacco company executives directly profit from the prices of their company stock through stock option plans. Widespread divestment of these shares would reduce stock prices, hitting these executives directly in the pocket. This would send them a powerful message from the public that the time has come to start planning for the phase-out of the tobacco industry.

"As doctors, we see first-hand the illness and suffering caused by tobacco," he said.

"So we think it makes sense for investors to help us in persuading the industry to plan for its long-term phase-out. The tobacco business is a dangerous, anti-social industry that is facing growing legal liability. We feel that investors concerned about tobacco should divest for both financial and ethical reasons."

PSC is a national health organization, founded in 1985 as a registered charity. It’s aim is the reduction of tobacco-caused illness through reduced smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.

PSC provides leadership for the medical profession on tobacco issues. With almost 1,500 members and representation in each region and province of Canada, PSC is a national voice on tobacco and health. It is funded primarily by donations from its physician members, by earnings and by corporate and government grants. This project was paid for from earnings from contractual work with provincial governments.


For more information:

Dr. Atul Kapur, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (613-233-4878)

Cynthia Callard, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada (613-233-4878)

Eugene Ellmen, Ellmen/Shaw Public Affairs (416-599-7746)

Michael Jantzi, Michael Jantzi Research Associates (416-861-0403)

"Tobacco Divestment Research Report" (HTML) (PDF)