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Money in tobacco
10:00am Monday 1st October 2012 in News
DEMANDS are being made for Worcestershire County Council to withdraw £21 million of investments in the tobacco industry.
Despite the authority taking over responsibility for stop smoking services from next year, and being in charge of creating an overall health strategy for the county, bosses still invest in companies that sell cigarettes.
The pension fund, which has assets worth £1.5 billion, currently has £15 million stashed in British American Tobacco and £6 million with Imperial Tobacco.
During a fierce debate at County Hall, councillors said it was “grossly hypocritical” and “immoral”.
Coun Alan Amos, deputy leader of the county’s Labour group, said: “There will always be different companies to invest in, and that’s what we should do – is the leader happy to go on running an immoral council?”
His comments drew gasps from some corners of the council chamber but the motion, created by the Labour group, was backed by the Liberal Democrats.
However, it was voted down by the Conservatives, despite many admitting it was a moral dilemma.
Conservative councillor John Campion said: “If we take a moral standing over this, where do we stop?
“Do we stop investing in car companies because we’re all for public transport?”
Councillor Adrian Hardman, the group leader, said taking out the money would “open up the gates” for people to demand they withdraw cash from all sorts of other investments