Pension funds, endowment funds, socially responsible mutual funds and private portfolios frequently screen out tobacco companies. If major media companies persist in recruiting half of all new U.S. smokers, conscientious investors have to ask if these firms should be screened out, too.
Media companies are stonewalling investors.
In 2004, shareholders in Disney, General Electric (Universal),
Time Warner and Viacom proposed that their companies
study on-screen smoking’s impact on adolescent
health and how it can be reduced. Every one of these
companies rushed to block even this mild initiative.
They argued to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
that all decisions about the tobacco content of their
films should be considered “ordinary business,”
off-limits to shareholder attention.
Pension and fund managers have financial clout.
reputational, political and legal risks of knowingly
promoting tobacco to young people are incalculable.
If you or your institution hold shares in funds screened
for tobacco, but also own large media companies with
motion picture operations, contact your portfolio managers
and ask them to use their influence to bring about needed
changes in corporate practice.
To learn about shareholder initiatives on this issue…
The Smoking and Movies Shareholder Outreach Network (SAMSON) has been created as a joint project of As You Sow Foundation and the Tobacco Program of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). It offers a forum for discussion and strategizing within the SRI community. Contact:
Smoking and Movies
Shareholder Outreach Network
c/o As You Sow Foundation
311 California Street #510
San Francisco, CA 94104