“Tobacco kills six million people a year and costs society more than war and terrorism combined. Yet it is also considered to be an attractive investment offering strong returns. [...] That is inconsistent and has to change.” On Sunday, May 22, Thomas Buberl, Deputy CEO and incoming CEO of AXA, set the Group on the path to withdrawing its assets from the tobacco industry.
Dr. Bronwyn King, an Australian oncologist who founded the Tobacco Free Portfolios organization in 2010, helped inspire this move by the Group’s leaders.
Listen to Dr. Bronwyn King's testimonial:
In six years, she has already persuaded nearly half of all Australian investment funds to divest from the tobacco industry and is now tackling the rest of the world. Several companies have been approached, but AXA is “the first private-sector company to make the commitment” she declares.
The Group will divest €1.8 billion of investments in tobacco industry companies by immediately selling €184 million in shares and stopping any new investments in corporate bonds issued by these companies. At the same time, it will wind down its existing tobacco industry corporate bond holdings, currently worth about €1.6 billion.
On World No Tobacco Day, championed by the World Health Organization, everyone can contribute to making the world safer and healthier. The role of health insurers is also changing: prevention has become vital and new technologies are being increasingly used.
The AXA Research Fund supports scientists whose research include tobacco-related risks:
- Anouk Festjens is working on the influence of marketing on risk-taking and how risk prevention can help, and smoking is an important area of research;
- Nicoletta Balbo is studying adolescent substance abuse. The Italian researcher is developing a comparative study of risk factor assessment and prevention among teens;
- France Mesle is researching trends in mortality and causes of death to establish a database of causes of death that can be analyzed to study possible treatments or how they relate to risk factors such as alcohol or tobacco use;
- Sabine Langie, a Belgian researcher, is investigating how the environment influences allergies before and after birth, including the diverse consequences of parental smoking on children’s health;
- Manami Inoue is a researcher in Japan seeking to discover the secret to long life. She is using tobacco data to understand the dynamics of longevity around the world, highlighting the harmful effects of tobacco.