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Towards tobacco free investment

 The AMA Council of Doctors in Training (AMACDT) was delighted to have Dr Bronwyn King, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Tobacco Free Portfolios, share her insights on leadership and advocacy at the AMA Leadership Development Dinner on 26 May 2017 at Eureka 89 in Melbourne.

Dr King was the keynote speaker at this event and spoke passionately about her experience working towards tobacco control that has led to a significant global shift towards tobacco-free investment.

A Radiation Oncologist, Dr King explained how she found out by accident that her Super Fund was investing her money in tobacco companies – the very companies that made the products which caused unimaginable harm to her patients!

Since then, Dr King has led the charge to persuade superannuation funds to exclude tobacco companies from their portfolios. 35 large Australian Super Funds are now tobacco-free, having divested approximately $2.5 billion worth of tobacco stocks.

There are many alarming statistics relating to tobacco:

–          15,000 Australians die early as a result of tobacco every year;

–          In 2016, more Australian women died from lung cancer from breast cancer; and

–          The World Health Organisation estimates that the world is on track for one billion tobacco-related deaths this century.

The problem is that most people don’t know whether their money is being invested in tobacco or not.

Tobacco Free Portfolio’s newest initiative, Verified Tobacco-Free, aims to solve this problem.  

The team at Tobacco Free Portfolios have designed the Verified Tobacco-Free logo which will be available for adoption by Super Funds with tobacco-free investment policies, subject to an audit to confirm their tobacco-free status.

The Verified Tobacco-Free logo will help consumers to make easy, informed decisions in relation to their superannuation investment.

–          Super Funds can proudly display the logo to clearly demonstrate their tobacco-free status.

–          Fund members can be sure that their money is not being invested in tobacco.

–          Verified Tobacco-Free Super Funds can be ‘named and famed’, which will encourage other funds to follow suit.

A crowdfunding campaign is currently underway to support the initiative. Dr King aims to raise over $50,000 to make the Verified Tobacco Free initiative a reality. You can support Dr King’s work by going to https://pozible.com/project/verified-tobacco-free

Dr John Zorbas, AMACDT Chair, praised Dr King’s resolve and initiative and said her address had inspired all who attended to have the courage to lead and advocate for what they knew was morally and ethically right and in the best interests of patient care and the health of the wider community.

“In particular Dr King emphasised the value of having in place a strong network made up of family and friends to support you and help you to maintain a work life balance that’s right for you. As a leader it’s vitally important to recognise your own health needs and enlist support from those around you if you are to achieve your goals and continue to function effectively and efficiently.”

The Leadership Development Dinner is held every year as part of AMA National Conference. This year over seventy doctors in training, medical students, consultants and international guests attended the event which is widely acknowledged as one of the most important events of its type, providing future healthcare leaders with an opportunity to gain new insights into effective leadership.

In 2018, the AMA Leadership Development Dinner will be held on May 25 at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Sally Cross
Senior Policy Adviser, AMA