Havering Council tobacco investment ignites health row

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 September 2014

Health campaigner Med Buck

Health campaigner Med Buck


Havering Council’s growing investment in tobacco companies has been condemned by health campaigners as “ethically and morally unacceptable”.

Havering Council leader Cllr Roger RamseyHavering Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey

Nearly £2.5million of the authority’s pension pot is tied up in shares with companies that make cigarettes, cigars and rolling paper.

The substantial investment has been made even though the council has public health responsibilities relating to tobacco control and helping smokers to quit.

Health campaigner Med Buck, who chaired watchdog Havering Link before it was dissolved last year, questioned the controversial investment, which has grown by about £200,000 in the last year.

“It is ethically and morally unacceptable that Havering Council has increased its investment in tobacco companies since last year,” he said.

“How can Havering Council hold the responsibility of improving the health of its residents and yet be one of the shareholders of tobacco companies?”

Mr Buck added: “If Havering Council really believes in improving the health of its residents, it should avoid investing in tobacco companies and switch to ethical investment.

“Every resident of Havering would agree that health of the population is more important than profit.”

The council pensions fund has direct and indirect holdings in tobacco.

Directly, £390,000 is invested in Imperial Tobacco, a company which owns brands such as Golden Virginia and Rizla, up from £285,000 12 months ago.

More than £2.1m is also invested indirectly through a pooled fund. Altogether, Havering’s pension fund is worth more than £508.5m.

Havering Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “What many people do not know is the pension fund and the council are actually legally separate entities.

“It is the pension fund’s job to secure the best investment returns for the fund in the interests of its


“Whilst we do not impose any obligation on investment managers to avoid specific companies, they are encouraged to use those that demonstrate best practice in companies’ management of the social, environmental and ethical impact of their activities.”

Read more:

Council budget: Services at risk as Havering Council aims to make drastic spending cuts
Council lock-in at Havering Town Hall


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories


On a winter’s night in 1956, four future icons created music history by rocking out together in a famous Tennessee studio.

Yesterday, 15:00

A new adaption of the side-splitting black comedy The Ladykillers is coming to Queen’s Theatre, written by the author 
of Father Ted and The IT Crowd.

Yesterday, 12:31

It’s that time of year when a new cohort of late teens head off to university.

Yesterday, 10:00

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Fri, 16:00

Detectives from Essex Police are still hoping to trace the owners of this jewellery and distinctive box, which were recovered from a house in Romford and are believed to have been stolen.

Fri, 14:00

A family-of-four were cared for by paramedics after a large fire outside their Harold Hill home left them stranded in the street in the middle of the night.

Fri, 12:32

Havering’s London Assembly representative has admitted that although he welcomes today’s news that Uber’s licence has been revoked, he is concerned about the decision’s economic impact.

Fri, 11:29

Budget taxi service Uber has been told its trading licence will not be renewed when it expires in eight days time.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists

News from your area


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now