Tobacco investments burn cancer charities

Two of Sweden’s charities supporting research into finding a cure for cancers turn out to have been investing in tobacco stocks. The news hit Sweden’s front pages in the dailies and the tabloids resulting in some fancy footwork from the charities.

A press release on The Cancer Fund’s home page said: “Our fund manager SEB is given the task of managing our funds in the best way and in accordance with our policy. We will together look over how their routines can be further tightened.”

DN reports that The Cancer Fund invested in SEB’s North American portfolio in 2003, which in 2004 was complemented with a number of stocks from the tobacco company Reynolds American. The tobacco stocks, however, were sold out of the portfolio in early 2005.

The Childrens’ Cancer Fund had until recently been holding about 800,000 kronor worth of stocks from the Swedish Match tobacco company in its portfolio.

Both charities admit the oversight and maintain that they have strict ethical standards with regard to investments. “Tobacco is the only lifestyle issue we know to be detrimental to health. That’s why we’re not going to invest in the tobacco industry,” said the Cancer Fund’s head of communication, Ellinor Bollman.

The Childrens’ Cancer Fund states a policy of boycotting investments in businesses having to do with alcohol, tobacco, weapons or pornography. DN finds that the holdings in Swedish Match were mixed in various funds managed by Handelsbanken.

Both charities donate several million kronor to cancer research every year.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Aftonbladet