California pension system reconsiders tobacco divestment

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Anti-smoking groups are pressuring the nation's largest public pension system to drop plans to consider re-investing in tobacco stocks 15 years after selling them off.

Executives from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association lay out their case in a letter sent Thursday to the head of the California Public Employees' Retirement System board. They say investing in tobacco companies would send the message that California supports the industry.

A consultant reported last year that the tobacco sell-off has cost as much as $3 billion in lost investment returns. The retirement system's investment committee is scheduled to decide how to proceed next week, but a final decision will take up to two years.

The retirement system's board says it has a constitutional responsibility to maximize returns.