Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 7, 2009


Agence France Presse - Major US, Canadian and British life and health insurance companies have billions of dollars invested in tobacco companies, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said.

Wesley Boyd, the study's lead author, found that at least 4.4 billion dollars in insurance company funds are invested in companies whose affiliates produce cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.

"Despite calls upon the insurance industry to get out of the tobacco business by physicians and others, insurers continue to put their profits above people's health," said Boyd, a faculty member of Harvard Medical School.

"It's clear their top priority is making money, not safeguarding people's well-being," he wrote.

Tobacco is considered the leading cause of lung cancer and a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, pulmonary disease and cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, it is a contributing factor in 5.4 million deaths a year.


Blogger Gary Fee said...

Why shouldn't health insurers invest in tobacco companies? As investers they aren't contributing to tobacco use, they are merely making money off its users. This helps to offset the money they lose by treating tobacco users in corporate plans where the insurers have to charge the same for every employee regardless of the individual's unhealthy habits. No one, except a smoker, sees anything wrong or hypocritical about making smokers pay more for health care, so why this uproar over collecting that money at the cash register, instead of through a payroll deduction?

June 8, 2009 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently Gary doesn't grasp the concept of ethics.

June 8, 2009 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only a non-smoker would fail to appreciate that the smokers pay truly huge taxes that pay for the care others live to use far longer than most smokers. If the smokers stop smoking, the non-smokers will have to start pony-ing up for their own expenses - so be careful what you wish for.

June 9, 2009 11:00 AM  

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