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Nest tobacco-free a year ahead of schedule

Published: 27 August 2020

Nest, the pension scheme with more than 9 million UK savers, is today confirming its investment portfolio is tobacco-free.

The announcement to go tobacco-free was made June last year after Nest concluded tobacco was a poor investment for its members. Key factors cited included:

  • stricter worldwide regulation against tobacco products
  • increasingly aggressive legal action by governments against the tobacco industry
  • falling global smoking rates

Speaking at the time Mark Fawcett, Nest’s Chief Investment Officer, said “tobacco is a struggling industry which is being regulated out of existence”.

Nest set itself the target of being tobacco-free across the portfolio within two years. Since then, Nest has been working with its fund managers to remove all tobacco investments and can confirm the final £40 million worth of stocks in its portfolio have been sold, making Nest tobacco-free a year ahead of schedule.

Nest’s announcement comes after the news hundreds of thousands more people in the UK have given up smoking due to the health risks it poses from coronavirus. The charity Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) confirmed that in the past four months, 41 per cent of the one million smokers who’ve recently quit said it was in direct response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest advice from the government is that smokers generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections, such as coronavirus, and that any coronavirus symptoms may be more severe if someone smokes.

Notes to editors

Nest defines a tobacco company as any business involved in the direct manufacture and/or production of tobacco products, including subsidiaries and joint ventures.

The previous exposure to tobacco, equating to around 0.5 per cent of the total portfolio, came mainly through passively managed index funds. Nest has been able to set up new segregated mandates for these funds, in which screens on tobacco are in place.

Today’s announcement follows Nest’s recent Climate Change policy, another example of responsible investment which is helping Nest to achieve the best risk-adjusted returns for its members.