Press Release – New York, 26 September 2018: For the first time, finance leaders are joining world leaders from government and health today to launch The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge.
The Pledge encourages signatories to consider the adoption of tobacco-free finance policies across lending, insurance and investment, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The ultimate goal is to reduce the current annual death toll of 7 million people a year  dying from tobacco-related illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco consumption is the single largest preventable cause of death.
This initiative was launched today at United Nations’ Headquarters during UN General Assembly week, at a high-level side event co-sponsored by the French and Australian Governments, and featured many speeches, including from HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan; Ms. Agnes Buzyn, Minister of Solidarity and Health, France; Mr. Paul Blokhuis, State Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Netherlands; Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the World Health Organization; Dr. Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Head of Convention Secretariat, WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Ms. Annette Dixon, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank Group; John Chiang, State Treasurer California; Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, Director and CEO, BNP Paribas; Denis Duverne, Chairman, AXA; Adam Tindall, CEO, AMP Capital and François Riahi, CEO, Natixis.
The Pledge was initiated by not-for-profit Tobacco Free Portfolios, with CEO and Radiation Oncologist Dr. Bronwyn King and her team developing The Pledge in collaboration with UN agencies and finance sector leaders AXA, BNP Paribas, AMP Capital and Natixis.
The Pledge was launched today with over 120 Founding Signatories and Supporters. They include financial institutions from around the world collectively representing trillions of dollars of capital, including assets under management of over USD 6.4 trillion, corporate loan books of over USD 1.8 trillion and insurance premiums of over USD 179 billion. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, with C$193.9 billion in net assets at June 30, 2018, also signed The Pledge today, and announced its adoption of a tobacco-free position.
The global financial community is recognizing the increasing commercial, regulatory and social headwinds facing the tobacco industry and the need to ‘denormalize’ tobacco by ending all business and financial ties with this industry. The finance sector has long been a missing piece in tobacco control, treating tobacco as a ‘normal’ participant in the global economy and financing the industry through lending, insurance and investment. This public declaration of support for tobacco-free finance, and the call to others to follow suit is a decisive step, highlighted by increasing momentum and change.
MSCI, the world’s largest provider of environmental social and governance (ESG) indexes  and research  today announced the launch of a suite of Ex Tobacco Involvement Indexes. This suite of indexes will be a standard offering that is easily accessible, simple to implement and will keep the cost of adoption low, reducing hurdles to removing tobacco from both passive and active portfolios.
Moving away from financing tobacco is an issue now placed firmly on the agenda of boards of financial institutions across the globe.
 By number of indexes and by assets tracking the indexes compared with publically available information produced by FTSE and S&P Dow Jones as of September 2018
 By coverage of companies and by number of clients based on public information produced by Sustainalytics, Vigeo/EIRIS and ISS ESG as of September 2018