Bolton Council passes anti-smoking motion - despite investing £55 million per year in tobacco companies
AN anti-smoking motion has been passed by Bolton Council, in spite of its pension scheme investing at least £55 million last year in tobacco companies.
Cllr Sufrana Bashir-Ismail put forward a motion calling on the council to step up its work to reduce the number of people taking up smoking, and develop plans with partners to address the causes and impacts of tobacco use.
The motion, which was passed, also said Bolton Council should protect its tobacco control work from the ‘commercial and vested interests’ of the industry.
But during the debate, Cllr Martyn Cox raised the fact that the authority is signed up to the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
The scheme, which all Greater Manchester councils are members of, has investments in tobacco companies – including £20.3 million in Japan Tobacco and £22.8 million in Marlboro producers Philip Morris.
Cllr Cox said that, while he supported the vast majority of the motion, passing it without an amendment about commercial interests “would make us look a bit foolish.”
Speaking after the debate he added: “The Conservative group was broadly supportive of the motion but found it hard to reconcile having a strong stance against the vested interests of tobacco when the council is one of those most ‘interested’.
“The council should either disinvest from those companies or choose its words more carefully.”
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Cllr Bashir-Ismail accused the Conservative group of ‘playing politics’ with her motion.
She added: “I am very aware that the tobacco industry employs a lot of people in this country, and the pension fund is committed to and has a responsibility to provide the best return for its members.
“Meanwhile we have to deter people from smoking and protect out residents.”
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