Advancing Tobacco-Free Finance Policies in the USA
Tobacco Free Portfolios (“TFP”) commits to expanding their global work to galvanize the U.S. marketplace in championing tobacco-free finance through an entirely new approach. By establishing a presence in key locations across the United States TFP will 1) develop an advocacy campaign, (2) increase the committed assets under management to the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge by at least $3 Trillion, and (3) engage with at least 20% of the leading U.S. financial institutions and endowments as part of their ESG efforts in addressing health equity.
Tobacco Free Portfolios (“TFP”) offers an entirely new approach to combat Big Tobacco – by systematically eradicating sources of capital and eroding social license to operate. TFP’s strategy for doing so now focuses on capacity building in the U.S which is by far the largest and most important financial market. By establishing a presence in key locations across the United States with fully staffed teams, the primary goals to be accomplished by December 2023 are to (1) increase the committed assets under management to the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge by at least $3 Trillion, and (2) engage with at least 20% of the leading U.S. financial institutions and endowments.
Both objectives can be achieved by leveraging TFP’s already extensive network of healthcare, tobacco control, and financial sector contacts to create broad reaching awareness of the importance of tobacco-free finance. TFP staff members will participate in key financial conferences as speakers and panelists. Additionally, the TFP team will host a series of high-level, private roundtables engaging with key financial leaders and institutional investors on the rationale, common challenges and practical solutions that should be considered when contemplating tobacco-free finance.
As TFP continues to educate the financial sector on the overwhelming financial, regulatory, and sustainability risks inherent in doing business with Big Tobacco, the organization repeats the cycle of recruiting new leaders to become advocates and supporters of the TFP mission by committing to move capital and social license to operate away from Big Tobacco.
Tobacco-related illnesses are the world’s number one cause of preventable death, killing an estimated 8 million people per year – including 1.2 million non-smokers. This is a cross-cutting issue that negatively impacts the health of children and families, poses a threat to labor and human rights, and causes harmful environmental outcomes.
Unless we change course, it is estimated 5.6 million children alive today in the U.S. will experience a premature death from tobacco use. 1.3 million children under 14 years old are engaged in tobacco farming worldwide, thus reducing access to education, a major social determinant of health. Further, the lack of policies around child labor in tobacco farming leaves children exposed to both nicotine poisoning and hazardous worker conditions. Children as young as 12 are legally allowed to work in tobacco fields in the U.S. This along with other smoking-related illness costs an estimated $320 billion each year in the U.S.—of which, $170 billion goes towards direct medical care.
Not only does tobacco create a barrier to health for children and families, it also disproportionately impacts black and low-income communities. Health and wellness disparities, such as African Americans being more likely to die from tobacco related diseases than any other group, makes the financing of tobacco products a racial and social justice concern.
Regarding environmental damage, cigarette filters have become the most littered item on the planet and the most abundant form of ocean plastic. Indeed, 5% of deforestation in low- and middle-income countries is attributed to tobacco farming and is globally responsible for approximately 20% of annual increases in greenhouse gas emissions.
Tobacco Free Portfolios advocates for and supports the efforts of the world’s leading financial institutions as they transition away from tobacco in their lines of business and investments, ultimately bringing an end to Big Tobacco.
To scale the organization’s impact in the United States, the funding request is $1.5 million per year in year one and $1 million per year thereafter, granted over a period of five years. While grateful for the support and guidance from Truth Initiative, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, American Lung Association, and American Cancer Society, TFP would benefit immensely from engaging with additional organizations and philanthropists whose missions align with health equity, racial/social justice, and climate change. In the interest of seeing many lives saved from the impacts of tobacco, TFP would like to seek resources and/or services from the CVS Health Foundation, The Sierra Club, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and MacKenzie Scott.
Funding will be allocated towards capacity building, including staffing and personnel contracts, event travel, project expenses, and administrative and operational support. TFP is also seeking media support to mainstream efforts and gain high level introductions within the financial community.