Action and Smoking on Health (ASH) and Hāpai Te Hauora (Hāpai) as the National Tobacco Control Advocacy are disappointed with the news that Auckland City Council has investments in soft drink, alcohol and tobacco companies. Both organisations say, It’s a lesson to be learnt by anyone who is advocating for the health of New Zealanders to “make sure your own organisation's backyard is clean first”.
Both organisations are calling for councillors to rectify the situation. “Now we are clear about what they are investing in we would like to see them clean up their act and reinvest into something far more ethical” ASH director Stephanie Erick states.
“Being a supporter of coke and tobacco through investments, as well as trying to protect our communities from the same products is confusing for communities. Time to show Auckland and the rest of the country that change from the inside is going to happen and that creating healthy spaces for communities isn’t just for show” says Zoe Hawke Manager of Hāpai Tobacco Control.
Auckland City Councillors acknowledged they were shocked to learn of the investments and will work to rectify this issue. Currently, the council's policy does not ban investment in tobacco companies. ASH New Zealand urges that the council implement an investment policy that eliminates tobacco companies as well as demonstrates a high degree of alignment with the principles of responsible investing.
Both ASH and Hāpai look forward to seeing public proof of investment withdrawal by Council, and reinvestment in businesses that don’t cause ill health.
There are 132,189 smokers in the Auckland Region according to the latest 2013 Census data. This is around 13% of smokers in the Auckland region and the goal less than 5% by 2025. Divesting in tobacco is one measure, within a set of measures, that needs to be adhered to reach smokefree 2025. This is an action taken by Central Government and divestment from tobacco companies needs to occur at local government level.