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'The human cost of smoking is tragic': Axa insurance to cut ties with tobacco industry

Axa group are the first major insurer to remove investment to the tobacco industry.

Image: Shutterstock/Ehab Edward

THE AXA GROUP has become the first global insurer to sever ties with the tobacco industry, due to its impact on people’s health.

The French insurance group announced that it would sell about €1.8 billion worth of investments in the sector.

The deputy chief executive, Thomas Buberl, said that this decision has a cost for them, but the reason for the divestment is clear.

The human cost of tobacco is tragic; its economic cost is huge.

Thomas said they took the decision “as a responsible health insurer and investor” and hopes other insurers will follow their lead.

shutterstock_274483184 Source: Shutterstock/miqu77

Axa, whose revenues reached almost €12 million last year, warned that without urgent action to curb the rise in smoking-related deaths, tobacco was expected to kill one billion people worldwide during the 21st century.

The company will begin by selling its equity holdings in tobacco companies, which is valued at about €200 million. Their existing bonds in the tobacco industry, worth about €1.6 bilion, will also be run down.

“We need companies like AXA to signal that investing in an industry which kills its customers is simply the wrong thing to do,” said Cary Adams, CEO of the US-based Union for International Cancer Control.

- © AFP, 2016

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