Cheshire East have proposed a Smoking Cessation programme, which attracted significant publicity locally and nationally. (Adults and Health Committee, 18 July 2022, Providing Financial Incentives to Support Smoking Cessation, see press release “Council approves pilot smoking cessation incentive scheme”)
In August, we emailed the Director of Public Health at Cheshire East and pointed out the continuing investments by CPF in tobacco companies. We questioned the double standard or misunderstanding of the council in spending £116,400 on this programme, while at the same time its own pension fund invested in tobacco. Four councillors from Cheshire East are on the CPF Committee.
We have not criticised the cessation programme or the idea, and fully agree that “stopping smoking is the best choice someone can make for their health”.
But CPF has this ongoing investment in tobacco, and Cheshire East failed to recognise this in the Committee Paper. These CPF investments damage the hard work of public health and health staff in Cheshire.
We have had an initial reply from Cheshire East including the extraordinary statement that CPF “holdings in tobacco companies have already been reducing over time, and currently make up less than 0.1% of the portfolio”.
The CPF portfolio is valued at £6,904,143,472 at the end of FY 2021/2022, which means that “less than 0.1%” is £7million !!
We have challenged this, but are still waiting for a reply to our email………
We will continue to ask Cheshire East and the other councils in CPF questions about the double standard of CPF investments in tobacco, as well as in other areas that fail ESG criteria, and impact on the work of council staff, paid for by residents through Council Tax.