Teacher Fund To Sell Tobacco Stocks
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The California's teacher pension fund said Wednesday it will sell all of its tobacco holdings, more than $237 million worth of tobacco stocks, because they are a bad investment.
The California State Teachers' Retirement System has been considering the move for six months, after it was suggested by teachers' unions and state Treasurer Phil Angelides, a system board member.
The fund, with a total portfolio of $114 billion, provides retirement benefits to more than 605,000 current and retired teachers in California public schools and community colleges.
Angelides said ongoing lawsuits and continued regulations mean ``the stocks for the foreseeable future are going to have risks.''
The California Public Employees Retirement System, the nation's largest public pension fund with a portfolio of $175 billion, will consider a similar investment change June 19.
``This is an instance where society has rendered a very powerful judgment about corporate practices and the health effects of tobacco products,'' Angelides said.
CalSTRS' investment committee voted 8-0 for the change. The fund's staff will begin selling the stocks as quickly as is prudent, Angelides said.
Several states, including Maryland, Florida, Vermont, Massachusetts and Minnesota, have set similar policies for their public employee pension funds, according to the Investor Responsibility Research Center. Others have barred new investments in tobacco stocks.
Philip Morris Inc. in New York, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. in Louisville, Ky., and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in Winston-Salem, N.C., did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.