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Tobacco – A Threat to Development

Worldwide, nearly 7 million people – more than the entire populations of Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia combined – die from direct and indirect tobacco use every year.  Still, there are more than 1 billion smokers, 80% of whom live in low- and middle-income countries where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is heaviest.  In addition to being a moral tragedy, the results of tobacco consumption are a threat to the health and productive capacity of people the world over.

To raise awareness of this continuing crisis, every year on May 31, The World Health Organization (WHO) marks World No Tobacco Day. WHO is calling on governments to prioritize and accelerate tobacco control efforts. Governments can reduce the harms caused by tobacco by adopting and implementing the tobacco control provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which include guidelines intended to reduce the demand for tobacco as well as tobacco production, distribution, availability and supply.  

Domini has joined investors managing $3.8 trillion in a statement to representatives from WHO and national health ministers applauding efforts already made on tobacco control and encouraging governments to continue with this critically important work (Download the investor statement in PDF format). The statement notes that “smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion a year, according to a 2017 joint study by the WHO and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, far outweighing global revenues from tobacco taxes.”

The statement continues:

“We in the investment community are becoming increasingly aware of the important role we can play in helping to address the health and societal impacts of tobacco. We strive within our own scope of action to support the ambition of the WHO, in line with our commitment to the positive role finance can play in sustainable development more broadly.”

Domini has always viewed the tobacco industry as fundamentally misaligned with our goals of universal human dignity and ecological sustainability. We have therefore never invested in companies that are significant manufacturers of tobacco products.

We are pleased to have the opportunity to join with other investors to clearly communicate that these efforts to protect public health are in everyone’s best interests.

On an individual level, many smokers find it difficult to quit despite the many long and short-term benefits. If you or someone you know is struggling with smoking cessation the resources at the American Lung Association and the CDC can help.