Fianna Fáil TD for Laois and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Sean Fleming says a new Bill being introduced by his party tomorrow will once and for all end the practice of the State holding investments in tobacco companies.

Deputy Fleming added that the practice of the State making a profit from the sale of cigarettes is immoral and must never be allowed happen again. The ‘Ethical Public Investment (Tobacco) Bill 2017’ will prohibit the investment of public money directly or indirectly in equity or debt securities issued by tobacco companies.

Deputy Fleming said, “At a Public Accounts Committee meeting last year it was confirmed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that the State, through The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), had equity holdings in three separate tobacco companies.

“Following the PAC meeting it was clear that legislation would have to be implemented to ensure that the State would permanently divest itself from the tobacco industry. Specific legislation is needed in cases where we do not want the State to hold equity in certain industries.

“There is a precedent for forcing the ISIF to divest from certain troublesome industries. Legislation is already in place to prevent the ISIF from investing in the cluster munitions and landmines industry. The Bill I have brought forward mirrors this legislation.

“Ireland has earned a significant reputation in recent years as a leader in tobacco control. Initiatives such as the smoking ban and high publicity campaigns on the effects of smoking have led to a marked decrease in rates of tobacco consumption. The very idea of the State holding shares in tobacco companies does a disservice to this good work.

“Minister Noonan indicated that the ISIF recently made a commercial decision to divest itself from the tobacco industry. Such investment should not be allowed to reoccur. This can only be achieved by legislation. The Bill I have brought forward will achieve this and ensure it never reoccurs. I hope it receives cross-party support in the Oireachtas,” concluded Deputy Fleming.