Largest Public Pension System to Sell All Tobacco Stocks


The nation’s largest public pension system is giving up tobacco.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System decided Monday to sell off its last $550 million worth of tobacco-related investments nearly two decades after trading away the bulk of them.

In a 9-3 vote, the CalPERS investment committee disregarded the advice from its own financial advisers who recommended reversing a sell-off approved in 2000, which has cost the system more than $3 billion in lost earnings.

At that time, CalPERS sold off investments managed by its in-house advisers but allowed outside managers to retain their holdings.

Most committee members say the industry faces risk from global regulations and declining rates of smoking. Others say CalPERS is obligated to maximize investment returns and can only do that with a fully diversified portfolio.