Український ринок
 Новини зарубіжжя

French global insurer, AXA, says that as a responsible health insurer and investor, it has decided to divest its tobacco industry assets, currently valued at approximately EUR1.8 billion (US$2 billion), citing the reason that smoking poses the biggest threat to public health in the world today.

AXA said that tobacco consumption is the major cause of long term non-communicable diseases including cancer, heart disease and chronic respiratory illnesses. Today, tobacco kills 6 million people per year, a figure that is expected to rise to 8 million by 2030, mostly in developing countries. Unless urgent action is taken to reverse this trend, tobacco will kill one billion people worldwide during the 21st century. Its cost, estimated at EUR2.1 trillion per year, equals the combined expenses of war and terrorism. The damage to health from tobacco products is more costly to society than that caused by alcohol or obesity.

AXA says that it will sell its equity holdings in tobacco companies immediately, the current estimated value of which is approximately EUR200 million. AXA will also stop all new investments in tobacco industry corporate bonds and run off its existing tobacco industry bond holdings, currently valued at approximately EUR1.6 billion.

Mr Thomas Buberl, Deputy CEO and incoming CEO of AXA, said: “We strongly believe in the positive role insurance can play in society, and that insurers are part of the solution when it comes to health prevention to protect our clients. Hence, it makes no sense for us to continue our investments within the tobacco industry. With this divestment from tobacco, we are doing our share to support the efforts of governments around the world. This decision has a cost for us, but the case for divestment is clear: the human cost of tobacco is tragic; its economic cost is huge. As a major investor and a leading health insurer, the AXA Group wants to be part of the solution, and our hope is that others in our industry will do the same.”

Mr Cary Adams, CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) added: “We need companies like AXA to signal that investing in an industry which kills its customers is simply the wrong thing to do; and this announcement to divest EUR1.8 billion is a milestone step in the right direction. The Tobacco Free Portfolios initiative, led by Dr Bronwyn King, will continue to encourage other companies to follow AXA’s outstanding lead.”