This week the Bank of New Zealand confirmed a new responsible investment policy which will exclude companies involved in unethical activities. General Manager for the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service Zoe Hawke says the inclusion of the powerful tobacco industry alongside companies involved in the production of cluster munitions and nuclear weapons sends a clear signal that the tide has turned on tobacco.
"We are delighted that the Bank of New Zealand is taking such a positive step and putting health before profit" says Hawke. "We've made strong gains in Aotearoa towards Smokefree 2025 in the areas of health promotion programmes and taxation. However, we know that attention now needs to turn to the supply side of the market to change the environment and ensure that the small group of committed smokers who still remain are encouraged to be smokefree. This is where companies like the Bank of New Zealand can really help, by refusing to financially support these companies to continue their activities. It’s great to see tobacco companies grouped together with companies which produce deadly weapons, because they produce the same outcome."
In an interview with the NBR BNZ Head of Wealth and Private Bank Donna Nicolof explained the Bank's decision on including tobacco companies saying "… there is no safe level of use and engagement with these companies is futile".
"That's a pretty unequivocal statement from a corporate manager in a bank" CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora Lance Norman said, "these guys aren't public health advocates. These are serious, commercially motivated people. If they no longer see value in being associated with tobacco and the harm it causes, we really are making a difference."