Kent County in England criticized for investing £24M in tobacco companies Altria, Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco; officials say this is just 1% of its pension fund portfolio, which aims for best

LOS ANGELES , August 22, 2011 () – Officials of Kent County in England are defending the county’s pension fund portfolio after being criticized for allowing nearly £24 million (US$39.5) to be invested in tobacco companies, reported the BBC News on Aug. 22.

Of the money invested in the tobacco industry by Kent County Council, about £13.5 million was invested in Altria Group Inc., £3.6 million in Philip Morris International Inc., £3.5 million in Imperial Tobacco Group PLC, and £3.4 million in Japan Tobacco Inc.

The council said that only 1% of all the pension fund portfolio’s equity investments were in tobacco companies and that these were selected by outside advisors who are primarily interested in securing investments with the greatest potential returns, BBC News reported.

The fund has a total of £2,350 million invested in stocks and shares, and it represents 350 public bodies in the country, said a Kent County Council spokesperson.

A representative from the local nonprofit Smoking and Health said the council was sending the wrong message by investing in tobacco companies, calling the level of its investment in the sector “totally unacceptable,” reported the BBC.

The primary source of this article is the BBC News, London, England, on Aug. 22, 2011.

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