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Tobacco Free Portfolios Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge at United Nations Headquarters


 ‘There’s No Room for Tobacco in a Net Zero World’

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tobacco Free Portfolios is delighted to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge at a high-level side event at UN Headquarters on September 19, 2023, on the sidelines of the 2023 UN General Assembly. The event is proudly co-sponsored by the governments of France, The Netherlands, and Jamaica, and supported by the United Nations’ Environment Program Finance Initiative, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, and the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.

The theme for the side event is ‘There’s No Room for Tobacco in a Net Zero World’ on account of Big Tobacco’s outsized negative impact on both people and planet. Global health, finance, and diplomatic leaders will celebrate the progress of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge. There are now 200+ leading financial institutions, from more than 20 countries, with >US$16 trillion combined assets under management that are Signatories to the Pledge. Recent notable Pledge Signatories include major French banks Société Générale and Crédit Mutuel, two of Australia’s largest banks – Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ANZ, and AIMCo, one of Canada’s largest pension plans.

Given worldwide focus on Net Zero ambitions combined with tobacco’s alarming environmental impacts, Tobacco Free Portfolios encourages investors to embed ‘tobacco-free’ into Net Zero strategies. To illustrate the rationale, cigarette filters, made from cellulose acetate, are the most littered item on the planet and a top contributor to ocean plastic waste. It’s also estimated that the production of tobacco leads to ~5% of global deforestation and results in vast carbon emissions.

Quotes:

Prof Bronwyn King, CEO Tobacco Free Portfolios

“The past five years has seen the rapid mainstreaming and acceleration of sustainability efforts, along with a rise in greenwashing allegations. The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge speaks to authentic sustainability commitments, that recognize the crucial role of finance in the global transition to a Net Zero future.”

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization

“Every dollar invested in a tobacco company is an investment in death and disease. We must fight tobacco on every front – in kiosks, on billboards, in the courts – and on the financial markets.”

Minister Aurélien Rousseau, Minister of Health and Prevention, France

“It is my conviction that the environmental dimension constitutes one of the key pillars in the fight against smoking. This is clearly the case with disposable electronic cigarettes, which we plan to ban from sale in France. Highly popular with young people, they are a rapid route to nicotine addiction. Besides, their components, particularly the lithium batteries, are totally at odds with our objectives in the fight against pollution.”

Mrs. Marjolijn Sonnema, Director General for Public Health, The Netherlands

“The mission of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge is more critical than ever, especially in light of the rising vaping epidemic among youth. The Netherlands stands ready as an important partner, to work towards a sustainable healthy future.”

Dr The Hon Minister Christopher Tufton MP, Minister of Health and Wellness, Jamaica

“Jamaica remains committed to investing in tobacco control, for the protection of human health as well as the health of the environment. The 15-year period return on investment for tobacco interventions show that for every dollar invested in tobacco control in Jamaica, one can expect to see 5.37 Jamaican dollars return. We are keen to solidify those gains. Jamaica also encourages the continued engagement and partnership of players from the finance sector in supporting the transition to a net zero world in which tobacco has no place.”

Mr Jean-Yves Fillion, Vice-Chair BNP Paribas USA

“BNP Paribas is proud to be a Founding Signatory of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, which is now successfully celebrating its fifth year. Beyond the health implications, a tobacco-free world is instrumental to abate healthcare costs and global environmental harm.”

Mr Nicolas Théry, CEO Crédit Mutuel

“We formalize today our refusal of the tobacco industry, with the conviction that we must act for the common good, in particular for the preservation of the environment and human health.”

Mr Stéphane About, CEO Société Générale USA

“The concepts of responsibility and sustainability are at the core of our strategy,” said Stephane About, CEO, Société Générale Americas. “Being a signatory of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and supporting this event are symbolic of our commitment to improving the health of the people on this planet, as well as the health of the planet itself.”

Mr Shayne Elliot, CEO ANZ

“ANZ acknowledges the important role that financial institutions can play in addressing global health priorities, including the harmful impacts of tobacco products. For this reason, ANZ is proud to sign the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and pleased to offer our continued support to this important initiative.”

Attorney General Rob Bonta, Attorney General of the State of California

“The dangers of smoking to both people and our environment are undeniable. Thanks to initiatives like the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, we’re helping to mitigate those dangers around the world by better deploying the power of investments. There’s still progress we need to make, and as Attorney General of the state with the fifth largest economy in the world, I look forward to continuing to help in any way that I can.”

Mr David Atkin, CEO, Principles for Responsible Investment

“At PRI we’re proud to support the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge and to see the strong progress the initiative has made over the past five years, with more than 200 financial institutions becoming signatories. As an issue that spans both the social and environmental spectrum, the role investors can play is clear as is the realisation that a net-zero future must also be one that is tobacco-free.”

Dr Diana Sarfati, Director-General of Health, Ministry of Health, New Zealand

“Aotearoa New Zealand’s goal to be a smokefree nation by 2025 will be realised through our bold Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan. The multi-faceted and world-leading measures we are taking represent our unwavering commitment to our people and our planet.

Tungia te ururua, kia tipu whakaritorito, te tipu o te harakeke

When you clear away the scrub (things that are negative) you enable new growth”

Dr. Eduardo Jaramillo Navarrete, Director General for the United Nations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of México

“Tobacco consumption and exposure to its smoke is a serious public health problem; it is even considered the first cause of death in the world that is completely preventable and avoidable. Let’s put all our energy into a tobacco-free world.”

“El consumo de tabaco y la exposición a su humo es un serio problema de salud pública, incluso se considera como la primera causa de muerte en el mundo que es totalmente prevenible y evitable. ¡Pongamos toda nuestra energía en un mundo libre de tabaco!”

Her Excellency Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, Qatar

“Qatar warmly congratulates Tobacco Free Portfolios for the success of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge. We collectively need to keep the fight against tobacco at the center of our action to protect population health and the environment. Besides implementing well known strategies to reduce tobacco consumption, this initiative underlines the need to go beyond the boundaries of the health and environment sectors towards actions which tackle the financial mechanisms allowing the tobacco industry to operate and prosper”.

Ms. Yolonda C. Richardson, President and CEO Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

“The tobacco industry has caused immeasurable damage to the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, as well as the environment. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is proud to work with Tobacco Free Portfolios and other partners to hold the industry accountable and end the enormous harm it causes.”

Rev Horace L. Sheffield III, Executive Director of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations & Pastor at New Destiny Christian Fellowship Church

“With 8 million tobacco-related deaths per year, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that tobacco companies have been causing devastating harm to people and the environment for far too long. It is time for the community to recognize the grave consequences of tobacco and take action toward divesting from this industry. We need to unequivocally say that there is no room for tobacco in this vision of a net-zero world.”

Ms. Katja Iversen, CEO, UN Live – Museum for the United Nations

“Popular culture like film and music can shape behaviors – positively and negatively. Research shows that exposure to tobacco imagery in movies and television is a key factor in young people picking up smoking. This is also an example of how our decisions are often more based on identity and culture, than on knowledge, even when it concerns our own health. Let’s double down on prevention – and make sure that popular culture also plays its part.”

Ms. Agamroop Kaur, Youth Health Advocate and Documentary Maker

“It is clear that investing in and enabling the tobacco industry creates a future that undermines our collective health and the health of our planet. The mission of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge is incredibly important in supporting the vision of young people for a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Relevant links

Link to 2023 UN event footage
The Pledge website
LinkedIn
TEDx talk

About Tobacco Free Portfolios

Tobacco Free Portfolios is a not-for-profit organization that encourages financial institutions to reflect on and reconsider commercial relationships with the tobacco industry in light of the alarming impact of tobacco on people and the planet. The organization’s flagship initiative, the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge, launched in 2018 at United Nations’ Headquarters and currently has 200+ signatories, representing >US$16 Trillion in AUM committed to tobacco-free finance. Our aim is to create a tobacco-free future.

Contacts

Media

Alaine Gee, CMP – ag@tobaccofreeportfolios.org – +1 (503) 927 3859



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