Dundee councillors call to stub out tobacco funds

Dundee council bosses have called for investments in the tobacco industry to be dropped from its pension pot.

City councillors discussed the issue at a closed sub-committee meeting, with senior administration members lobbying for an end to multi-million pound backing for big tobacco.

Councillor Jimmy Black proposed a motion, backed by deputy lord provost Christina Roberts, to launch a consultation into dropping the investments.

He said investing in tobacco contradicted the clear policies the council, NHS Tayside and the Scottish Government have of discouraging smoking.

Ahead of the consultation, which will examine whether the fund could get the same value by making different investments, Mr Black said he was personally in favour of using the pension fund cash elsewhere.

He said: “To stop investing in tobacco is a big decision.

“Personally, that’s what I’d like us to do, but we need to consult employers who are part of the Tayside scheme about the best way forward.

“We expect to do that once we have some more definitive information about what it could mean in financial terms to stop direct investments in tobacco companies.”

There has been controversy over the millions of pounds Tayside has invested in tobacco corporations as part of the Tayside Superannuation Fund. Members of the fund include council workers, staff from universities, arts centres and Leisure and Culture Dundee.

In the last three years the fund has invested £47 million with British American Tobacco, and £15 million with Imperial Tobacco.

West End councillor Fraser Macpherson had earlier called for part of the pension investment sub-committee dealing with the issue to be made public due to the impact smoking has on public health.

The motion, which was unanimously passed, resolved to consult fund managers seeking their professional views of whether the fund could make as much money while also pulling investment from the tobacco sector.

Employers who have signed up to the fund will also be canvassed on whether they would be happy to accept a reduced income and whether they support stopping tobacco investment.