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Hertfordshire County Council takes responsibilities 'seriously' despite £24m British American Tobacco investment
A senior Hertfordshire councillor has stressed that the county council takes its new public health responsibilities "seriously" after it emerged the authority has more than £20 million invested in tobacco.
Teresa Heritage, cabinet member for Public Health, made the comment while talking about the council’s plans to cut smoking in Hertfordshire.
The Conservative also welcomed the publication of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance which aims to crackdown on smoking in hospitals.
The guidelines also advocate weaning patients, including those receiving mental health treatment, off smoking while they receive care and in the long term.
Teresa Heritage, Cabinet Member for Public Health, said: "We are pleased that these guidelines have been published and we look forward to working with our NHS partners to support them in implementing the recommendations advocated by NICE.
"Hertfordshire County Council takes its public health responsibilities seriously. Our tobacco control policy outlines the key priorities to reduce the harm from tobacco across the county. Not only does tobacco affect the health of smokers and those around them, smoking costs our local economy in Hertfordshire (including NHS costs) approximately £278 million every year."
The new guidelines come as the county council gears up to launch its own anti-smoking campaign across Hertfordshire.
Yet last week the Watford Observer revealed that the council currently has £23.9 million in pension funds invested British American Tobacco this year, the largest single investment in the fund.
The company produces brands such as Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Kent and Pall Mall cigarettes, and made global profits of £5.97 billion last year. However it also did not pay a penny of UK corporation tax.
Following the revelation, Derrick Ashley, cabinet member for resources and transformation, said the money had been invested by pension fund manager who had a duty to get the best return for the council.
However he added that "where possible" the council did look to align its pension investments with its policies.
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