Money Managers Survey: Tobacco companies bottom of ‘Respect Table’

British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris International (PMI) and the Altria Group are at the bottom of the respect table according to the Barron’s ranking of 100 U.S.-based companies. The ranking is done by money managers. This is another nail on the tobacco industry’s coffin, which is still pretending to be a respectable business.

WHO has recently updated global tobacco related deaths at 7.2million a year. However investing in the tobacco business is often portrayed to be blue chip investment by the business sector. Now the money managers have ranked the top transnational tobacco companies at the bottom of the 100 largest publicly held companies in the U.S.

In the U.K. according to a Sunday Times report, BAT is not featured in ‘The 100 best companies to work for’ (mid-size category 220 – 3,000 employees) nor ‘The 30 Best Big Companies to work for’ in 2017. Tobacco companies are also missing in Australia’s top 60 corporations.

The quit-tobacco-business dominoes are falling as more institutions are either dissociating themselves from the industry, divesting from the tobacco business, refusing its support or plainly condemning this harmful business. Some recent example below:

  • Stop tobacco business: The strongest and clearest verdict came from the Danish Institute of Human Rights (DIHR) that advised Philip Morris International to stop its harmful business altogether. PMI’s collaboration with the DIHR completely backfired and instead of helping PMI clean up its business practice, DIHR has advised PMI to stop tobacco production and marketing altogether.
  • Divest from tobacco: Four international investment groups (Axa, Calpers, Scor and AMP Capital) have already sold or are selling their tobacco investments and have called on investors to quit the tobacco industry. The companies made the appeal this May on World No Tobacco Day.
  • End tobacco collaboration: The International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC) cut its ties with the transnational tobacco companies after years of collaboration particularly for its research and work on addressing illicit trade in tobacco products and tobacco tax. This move was made apparently to safeguard ITIC’s reputation and ensure its long term effectiveness.

Despite 60 years of compelling evidence on the harms cause by tobacco and after 100 million deaths in 20th Century, the tobacco companies continue to sell their deadly product. The larger business world used to regard the tobacco industry as just another industry, but clearly that is changing. And about time too.

However more needs to be done:

  • Apply DIHR’s advice globally. Set a deadline to stop tobacco production and marketing;
  • The UN Global Compact must issue a clear no-tobacco policy;
  • The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) must issue a clear no-tobacco policy;
  • The ILO needs to end its ties with the tobacco industry in its public-private partnership.