OPTrust, which manages the assets of the C$19.5 billion ($15.2 billion) Ontario Public Service Employees Union Pension Plan, Toronto, will divest from all tobacco-related equity and fixed-income investments by Jan. 1, 2018.

The divestment will affect C$23 million in equity and bond investments that derive most of their revenue from production or manufacture of tobacco products, said Hugh O’Reilly, president and CEO, in an interview Thursday.

“Generally, our responsible investment policy is based on corporate engagement, using the power of our capital to push for change,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “But when we apply that to tobacco, that doesn’t work. Tobacco either makes you addicted, makes you sick or kills you. Tobacco is unique.” 

Effective in 2018, tobacco will be placed on OPTrust’s banned investments list, joining an existing ban on investment in industries related to land mines and cluster bombs, Mr. O’Reilly said.

Source: Pensions & Investments