NYC Councilman Calls for Pension Fund Divestment from Tobacco

May 11, 2009 ( - New York City Councilman Eric Gioia has called for the city to sell more than six million shares invested through its pension funds in tobacco giant Phillip Morris/Altria.

“New York has spent millions fighting smoking,” Gioia said, according to the Daily News. “To be investing tax dollars in Phillip Morris/Altria does not make sense and is counterproductive to our public health initiatives.” Gioia wants to sell the shares that four of the city’s five pension funds purchased before a 1998 ban in an index that includes Phillip Morris.

In 1998, the city froze new investments in tobacco companies, the news report said.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the nation’s second largest pension fund, also has rejected tobacco company investments via a provision of its investment policy calling for a consideration of public health issues when deciding on future investment moves (see CalSTRS Adds Public Health Criteria to IPS ).