TED全球问题:Bronwyn King: You may be accidentally investing in cigarette companies

In 2001, I was a brand new, shiny doctor,planning to save the world.My first job was working for three monthson a lung cancer unit.Nearly all of my patientswere smokers or ex-smokers,and most of them had startedsmoking when they were childrenor in their early teens.And despite livingin a beautiful, wealthy country,with access to the mostsophisticated medicines,nearly every single oneof my patients died.Everyone knows tobacco is bad,but when you see the impactfirsthand, day-by-day,it leaves a very deep impression.

Ten years later,I'm a radiation oncologist,fully aware of the sufferingcaused by tobacco.I'm sitting at the hospital cafeteria,having my first ever meetingwith a representativefrom my superannuation fund.It was thrilling,I'm sure you can imagine.


He tells me I'm in the default option.And I said, "Option? Does that meanthere are other options?"

He looked at me,rolled his eyes, and said,"Well, there is this one greenie optionfor people who have a problem withinvesting in mining, alcohol or tobacco."

I said, "Did you just say tobacco?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "So, are you telling meI'm currently investing in tobacco?"

And he said, "Oh, yes, everyone is."

When you invest in a company,you own part of that company.You want that company to growand succeed and thrive.You want that companyto attract new customers,you want that companyto sell more of its products.And when it comes to tobacco,I couldn't think of anythingthat I wanted less.Now, I know you can only seeone person standing hereon this big red dot,on this enormous stage.But instead, I would like you to imaginethat you're lookingat seven million peoplecrammed up here beside me today.Seven million people across the worldhave died as a result of tobaccoin the past year alone.

Just imagine, if a brand new industrywere launched today,and by the end of next June,that industry's productshad killed seven million people.Would any of us investin that new, deadly industry?Tobacco is one of the mostpressing global issues of our time,and most of us are far more complicitin the problem than we may realize.

So, the super fund representativeexplained to methat tobacco companies would be foundin the international shares portionof my portfolio.So I asked him, "Well,which international shares do I have?"He got back to metwo weeks later with this list:my number one holdingin international shareswas British American Tobacco.Number two, Imperial Tobacco.Number four, Philip Morris.And number five,the Swedish Match company.Four of the top five companieswere tobacco companies,my investments, an oncologist.

And then I realized it wasn't just me.It was all members of my super fund.And then I realized it wasn't justmy super fund, it was all of them.And then I realized,it wasn't just superannuation funds,it was banks, insurers and fund managers.And then I realizedit wasn't just Australia.It was the entire global finance sector,completely tangled upwith the tobacco industry.The industry that makes productsthat kill seven million people every year.So I started discussing the issuewith my superannuation fund,and I've been discussing it ever since.

Finance leaders have many challengingissues to deal with, these days.So I suggest they adopt a frameworkthat clearly articulateswhy it is reasonableto take a strong position on tobacco.I suggest finance leadersask a suite of three questionsof any company in whichthey might invest our money.

Question one:Can the product madeby the company be used safely?"No" is the answer for tobacco companies.Zero is the only safe numberof cigarettes for a human being.It could not be more black and white.

Question two:Is the problem caused by the companyso significant on a global levelthat it is subjectto a UN treaty or convention?"Yes" is the answer for tobacco.Indeed there is a UN tobacco treatythat has been ratified by 180 countries.The treaty was createdbecause of the catastrophicglobal impact of tobacco.The current forecastis that the world is on trackfor one billion tobacco-relateddeaths this century.One billion deaths.There's only seven billion of us.

Question three relatesto the concept of engagement.Many financial organizations genuinelywant to be good corporate citizens.They want to use their shareholder powerto sit down with companies,engage with them,and encourage them to do better things.So the question is:Can engagement with the companybe an effective lever for change?"No" is the answer for tobacco companies.Engagement withthe tobacco industry is futile.The only acceptable outcome would beif tobacco companies ceasedtheir primary business.In fact, engagementwith the tobacco industryhas never led to less human death.

When we consider that framework,three simple questions,we can see that is reasonableand defensibleto take a strong position and excludeinvestment in the tobacco industry.

In addition to the UN tobacco treaty,there is, in fact, another global treatythat demands that we act on tobacco.In 2015, the UN adoptedthe Sustainable Development Goals.Now, we're talking about tobacco,and I know you're going to jumpstraight to number three:good health and well-being.And indeed, ramping uptobacco control regulationis essential if we're goingto achieve that goal.However, look a bit more deeply,and you will find that 13of the 17 goals cannot be achievedunless there is a major shake-upof the tobacco industry.Personally, my favorite goal is number 17:partnerships for the goals.At present, we have the entire globalhealth sector doing everything it canto help the tidal wave of patientssuffering as a result of tobacco.But that said, in the past year alone,seven million people have died,so clearly, that is not enough.We also have governmentsaligned on tobacco, 180 of them,busily trying to implementthe provisions of the UN tobacco treaty.But that, too, is not enough.If the global finance sector continuesto lend money to tobacco companies,to invest in tobacco companies,and to strive to profitfrom tobacco companies,we are working against each other.

Now, if we are going to disruptwhat doctors call"the global tobacco epidemic,"we need every sector of societyto stand side by sideand be part of the solution.So I call on finance leadersto implement a frameworkto deal with sensitive issues.And I call on them to upholdglobal conventions.But in addition, there are business risks.Pure financial risks, associated withbeing invested in the tobacco industryover the long term,and I ask finance leadersto consider them.The first risk is that fewerand fewer people will smoke,as a result of increasingtobacco regulation.

When these warnings were puton cigarette packets in Canada,

[Tobacco can make you impotent]

the first response of smokers wasto give them right back to the salespeopleand say, "Could you please just give methe ones that say they'll kill me?"


Regulation gets noticed,regulation reduces consumption,and we have 180 countriescommitted to more regulation.Let's talk about litigationand the risk that presents.At present, it's the business modelof the tobacco industrythat is being challenged.

Currently, the tobacco industryexternalizes all of the health costsassociated with tobacco.Governments pay,communities pay, you pay, I pay.The tobacco industryexternalizes all those costs,with an estimated one trillionUS dollars per year.Yet they internalizeand privatize the profits.In 2015, in Quebec province,the courts determinedthat the tobacco industrywas indeed responsiblefor those health costs,and ordered them to pay15 billion US dollars.That case is under appeal.But it begs the question,why should any of us, in any country,be paying for the costsof the tobacco industry?

Let's move on to supply chainand the risk there.It is not well knownthat the tobacco industrysignificantly relies on child labor.In March 2017, the InternationalLabour Organizationissued a report which stated:"In tobacco-growing communities,child labor is rampant."The US Department of Laborcurrently lists 16 countriesthat use children to produce tobacco leaf.Scrutiny of supply chains is intensifying,and that cannot continueto escape public attention.

Finally, there is alsoreputation risk to considerfor individuals and organizationsthat continue to maintain an affiliationwith the tobacco industry.In countless surveys,the tobacco industry ranksas the world's least reputable industry.

Let's just look at the impact on children.Globally, every single day,it is estimated that100,000 children start smoking.That's enough children to fitinside the Melbourne Cricket Ground.And most of those childrenare from the poorest communities on earth.Here in Australia, the average agethat people start smokingis 16 years and two months.They look pretty young to me,but the worst thing hereis that while we don't havedata from every country on earth,we believe that is the oldest age.Everywhere else is younger.

Now for the good news.Things are changing.The finance sector is coming to the party.After around 2,000 meetingswith finance leaders,primarily in the cafésof Melbourne and Sydneyand London and Paris and New Yorkand all across the globe,momentum, moving away from investmentin the tobacco industry,is starting to snowball.Finance leaders are alarmedwhen they're presented with the facts,and overwhelmingly,they want to be part of the solution.

Here, in Australia, we now have10,636,101 superannuation accountsthat are tobacco-free.That one is mine, by the way.


There is still a lot of work to be done,but I've watched the conversation gofrom "Should we go tobacco-free?"to "Why haven't we done it yet?"In the past year alone,major tobacco-free moves have been madeby leading financial organizationsin eight different countries.In Australia, New Zealand,the Netherlands, Sweden,Denmark, France, Ireland and the USA.By sovereign wealth funds,fund managers, pension funds,banks, insurers and reinsurers.Since tobacco-free portfolios began,more than six billion dollarshas been redirectedaway from investmentin the tobacco industry.The case study is well and truly proven.

When making the tobacco-freeannouncement in March this year,the CEO of AMP Capital said,"We are not prepared to deliverinvestment returnsat any cost to society."And that is the questionwe need to ask ourselves.Is there no baseline standardbelow which we will not sinkto make profit?

Along the way, I've had a lot of helpand incredible support.Now, if you're trying to do something,I highly recommend that you havea princess on your team.Her Royal Highness, Princess Dina Mired,is the global ambassador for this work.We also have a lord,a knight, a former premier,a former federal ministerand a stack of CEOs.

But the capacity to change thingsdoes not rest exclusivelywith these highly influential people.The power to do that is with all of us.Everyone here can be part of the solution.In fact, everyone here must bepart of the solution.Most people in this room own companiesvia their superannuation funds,their banks and their insurers.And it is time for us to ask them:Are they investing our moneyin companies that make productsthat kill seven million people every year?It's your money.It's my money, it's our money.And that is a very reasonable question.

Pretty cramped up here,with seven million people beside me today.But if we don't act now, and act together,we'll need to make wayfor one billion peoplebefore the end of this century.And this is a very big stage.But there is no more room.

Thank you.


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