Axa, one of the largest insurance companies in the world, will stop investing in the tobacco industry, it has announced.
The international firm which has more than 10 million customers in the UK has also pledged to sell investments worth more than €1.7bn.
Incoming chief executive Thomas Buberl told the BBC it “makes no sense” for the company to continue investing in the industry.
Last week, tobacco companies started selling cigarettes in standardised green packaging bearing graphic warnings of the dangers of smoking, under new rules designed to prevent young people taking up the habit.
Tobacco giants also failed in a last-ditch legal challenge against the Government’s plain packaging rules at the High Court when a judge rejected a judicial review action brought against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by four of the world’s biggest firms.
Mr Buberl said: “The business case is positive.
“It makes no sense for us to continue our investments within the tobacco industry. The human cost of tobacco is tragic – its economic cost is huge.”
He added that Axa was also a large provider of health insurance and chronic diseases cost the firm a lot of money.
“We need to invest more into prevention in order to prevent chronic diseases and we want to really support that, not invest in tobacco which creates more chronic diseases,” he said.
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