SF slams tobaccobut won’t act

SINN FÉIN declined to say whether it approves of the investment of Londonderry workers’ pension contributions in big tobacco firms despite local MEP Martina Anderson sermonising on the industry.

Imperial Tobacco. If it does well, so do local pensions.
Imperial Tobacco. If it does well, so do local pensions.
Imperial Tobacco. If it does well, so do local pensions.

Ms Anderson slammed the Government’s decision to halt plans to introduce ‘plain packaging’ for tobacco products.

She commented: “It should be ashamed, having so blatantly bowed to tobacco industry lobbying. The packet is one of the last marketing devices in Europe left for the tobacco industry to exploit the opportunity to attract new young smokers of its products.”

Following her hard-hitting comments, the Sentinel asked Sinn Féin if the party was happy local public sector workers’ pension contributions are invested in tobacco.

Many local council workers, alongside staff at Ilex, WELB, NIHE, Magee, City of Derry Airport, NWRC, Ulsterbus and some schools are contributing to a Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) pension fund which has been invested in a diverse portfolio including cigarettes.

At present £60,070,735.36 of the fund is invested in British American Tobacco; £11,156,284.44 is invested in the Imperial Tobacco Group; and £7,085,826.40 is invested in Japan Tobacco. The continuining profitability and success of these companies will help bolster the pensions of local public sector workers.

NILGOSC has previously advised the Sentinel that it is “legally prevented from excluding any type of company for ethical reasons. This is not unusual as this law applies to all general pension funds.”

But Ms Anderson’s Sinn Féin colleagues could conceivably introduce legislation altering this in Northern Ireland. Sinn Féin declined, however, to say if it would support legislation to change the situation and to allow NILGOSC to prohibit tobacco investments.