Intended for healthcare professionals


I don't want to be invited to invest in the tobacco trade

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 05 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1555
  1. Chris Johnstone, Clinical assistant in addictions. (100676.624{at}
  1. 24a Balmoral Road, Bristol BS7 9AZ

    EDITOR—The British Heart Foundation was criticised by the Independent on Sunday last year for using pension funds that invested in tobacco companies.1 A spokesperson for the BMA commented that charities promoting health should, as a matter of principle, avoid investment in tobacco companies and that “charities campaigning against tobacco should certainly not invest in tobacco stock.”1 However, the BMJ and the BMA (through its financial services subsidiary) could be criticised on similar grounds as both promote saving and pension funds investing in tobacco stocks. Last year the BMJ carried a full page advertisement for the Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses promoting “an outstanding investment opportunity.”2 I would have hoped that saving and pension funds designed for health professionals would avoid tobacco investment, but the Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses was unable to provide reassurance on this when I wrote to it. As the Independent on Sunday has shown, pension and savings funds, unless specifically screened, commonly invest in tobacco stocks because they are profitable.1

    BMA Services also continues to promote funds that have no screening to exclude tobacco investment.Indeed, when I wrote to the company about this it replied that “many doctors require consistent growth in preference to investing ethically.” At a time when pension and savings funds that offer both consistent growth and tobacco-free investment do exist, I find it disturbing to receive promotional literature tucked in my BMJ inviting me to invest in the tobacco trade.