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Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge initiative launches

The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge initiative — encouraging financial institutions to implement tobacco-free finance policies in support of world health efforts — was unveiled Wednesday at United Nations headquarters in New York, said a joint news release from non-profit organization Tobacco Free Portfolios and other sponsors of the pledge.

Bronwyn King, CEO of Tobacco Free Portfolios, developed the pledge in collaboration with U.N. agencies and AXA Group, BNP Paribas, AMP Capital and Natixis.

The pledge, which has 90 founding signatories and 36 supporters, highlights financial institutions that have implemented tobacco-free policies and encourages similar companies to follow suit. The pledge also encourages the financial sector to address priorities outlined in the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals and World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, raise awareness and encourage financial institutions to reconsider their business relationships with tobacco companies.

Among the signatories is the C$193.9 billion ($148.8 billion) Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto.

"Given the reputational, social and commercial headwinds facing the tobacco industry today, we are no longer confident that it represents an attractive investment opportunity for a long-term investor. Signing this pledge reinforces and institutionalizes our conviction that tobacco is no longer a sensible investment for our fund," said Barbara Zvan, OTPP's chief risk and strategic officer, in the news release.

Other signatories include the NZ$38 billion ($25 billion) New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Auckland.