Health insurers invest billions in tobacco stocks

Health insurers around the world collectively hold $4.5 billion worth of tobacco industry stock, according to a new study. The Consumerist has great highlights on the story, including this killer quote from the study's co-author, David Himmelstein, "[It's] the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back." Also: Toronto's Sun Life financial lied and said it didn't have any tobacco stock -- it has over $1 billion.

Why is it a big deal? "If you own a billion dollars [of tobacco stock], then you don't want to see it go down," says Himmelstein, "You are less likely to join anti-tobacco coalitions, endorse anti-tobacco legislation, basically, anything most health companies would want to participate in."...

But with $4.5 billion still invested in Big Tobacco, many insurers are reaping profits from a cancer-causing industry. As Himmelstein puts it, "Is this who we want running our healthcare system?"

Health insurers want you to keep smoking, Harvard doctors say (via Consumerist)

(Image: cigarette, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from SuperFantastic's Flickr stream)


  1. the health insurance companies want people to smoke. I saw a study that showed people who smoke cost them less because they die younger and don’t need care for as long as non smokers

  2. I suspect that any attempts to force changes on health insurance companies will be painted as an assault on your American Freedomâ„¢.
    Just like any attempt to change the status quo.

    I wonder if insurers make more money from smokers as opposed to non smokers?
    Anyone in the know on this?
    More treatment needed for smokers. But higher premiums and presumably more opportunity to find technicalities and avoiding paying out.

  3. Okay, maybe I’m off my rocker here, but I would assume that fewer tobacco-related deaths would net the insurance companies more money. So what’s their logic here? Someone please explain this to me like I’m a five-year-old.

  4. mmm…do people who don’t get sick and live a long time really NEED health insurance?

  5. Quote: As Himmelstein puts it, “Is this who we want running our healthcare system?”

    Do insurance companies run the healthcare system?

    1. Do insurance companies run the healthcare system?

      Yes. I worked in health care for 20 years. There’s a massive misconception about the healthcare industry. The misconception is that patients are the customers. They’re not. Insurance companies are the customers. The people who pay you are your customers.

      If you own a restaurant, your customers are the people who come in, eat and leave money on the table. Your customers are not the businesses that pay salaries to your diners. Patients pay for insurance. Insurance pays for healthcare.

      Every patient care decision that we ever made in 20 years was based on insurance contracts: fee for service vs. Diagnosis Relating Grouping vs. capitation. Every healthcare service that you receive is molded by insurance company policies. And it doesn’t matter if you pay cash, the system treats you like cattle anyway.

  6. The shorter a persons life, the less they have to pay out. Old age is incredibly expensive health wise. A fatal heart attack or a couple of years of emphysema cost less than a long life beset by a myriad of age related chronic illnesses.

  7. As others have pointed out, healthy people who live a long time accrue more health related expenses. Don’t forget prescriptions. Even generally healthy people will probably be taking a handful of drugs every day when they hit 70.

  8. This article is missing a major point, which is that modern medicine in america was FOUNDED on tobacco stock. The model for how to create an endowment was first demonstrated at Western Reserve Medical School in Cleveland, and a substantial portion of the money they received for this purpose was given in the form of tobacco company shares. The ironic relationship between american tobacco and American medicine goes back to 1909, if not further, before these health insurance companies where even created.

  9. Interesting. It says 7 companies that sell health insurance invest in Tobacco though, and from the two it did list (Prudential and Sun Life) are multifaceted corporations that have lots of different operations, health insurance being one of them. I’d love to know who the other 5 are, but the full letter that lists them all is behing SciAm’s pay wall. Anyone have access that could list them all?

    #1/#2 – It varies by state in the US. In NY we (I work for a health insurance company) are not allowed to charge different premiums based on whether or not someone smokes (can’t even ask), but NY is one of the most regulated states. So we very much prefer non-smokers, they lower premiums for everyone. Smokers typically are a drain and cost everyone more in the long run. Other states I couldn’t say.

    #3 Takuan – Yes, they need insurance. What they don’t need is a Health Plan. Health Insurance in the US long ago ceased to be insurance (covering rare and unforeseen events) and switched to being health plans (pay us so much a month and we’ll take care of your medical bills). Healthy people who have no routine care or prescriptions need real insurance, something there in case things go wrong. You’re healthy right up until the point you aren’t, and if you are involved in some sort of accident or come down with a condition suddenly, you could be looking at huge costs. I’m a big fan of High Deductible HSA style plans for that reason, low premium, very high cost sharing, a healthy person likely won’t use it at all, but if they suddenly have huge costs they’re covered beyond $5/10K or whatever. That’s insurance.

  10. Putting aside the “less likely”, can anyone tell me how many of these faceless corporations do support anti tobacco legislations/groups? If I had stock in philip morris, maybe I would WANT to support anti tobacco legislation since that would increase the value of my philip morris stock by knocking out the smaller competitors who can’t afford to be competitive in the face of such legislation, not to mention the PR benefits from looking like I’m supporting anti tobacco initiatives.

  11. It’s a classic hedge.

    The tone of this article is “OMG, health care providers stand to benefit from tobacco use!” The reality is more likely that health care providers are willing to lose some money if the stocks go down (reflecting poor prospects for the industry) in return for having more assets if the stocks go up (reflecting stronger prospects for tobacco and likely higher health care costs).

    The thing passionate people often miss is that ownership of a stock is not an endorsement of an industry.

    Pls, Bng Bng, pls stck t th gtrs wth mstchs pntd n thm, nd th cl rt/tch stff. s sn s psts tch n fnnc, thy bcm rlly mbrrssng nd gnrnt, bt n lss pnntd r pssnt. t hrts t rd.

  12. So whom would Himmelstein prefer to have running the healthcare system? The government?

    If so, I’m curious how these stocks are any more of a conflict of interest for “who we want running our healthcare system” than these:

    $246 billion for the government in tobacco settlement money:

    Also, an estimated 360 million packs of cigarettes are smoked in the U.S. annually. At an average of about $2.20 a pack in taxes (averaged out from the table in the page linked below), that’s an additional 800 million or thereabouts in tobacco taxes. (This is admittedly a very crude estimate, but you get the idea.)

  13. @#12 Brook St

    The thing passionate people often miss is that ownership of a stock is not an endorsement of an industry.

    I think that is somewhat disingenuous.
    You are giving them your money and encouraging them to continue in their business.
    It’s true that large companies have to invest in something, and that they are (probably?) legally obliged to put profits first, but I am not convinced that their choices have no effect.

    Maybe this will remind us that we should expect investments made by large companies to be amoral.

    I am certainly no finance expert and would agree that finance might be a bit offtopic for boingboing.
    But this submission did inform me of something that hadn’t occurred to me.

    Made me think that investment policy is something to be considered regarding state funding of healthcare vs. private insurance:
    I am assuming that investment in tobacco firms encourages smoking. If insurance co.s have sound financial reasons for doing this, then here is a concrete example of them actually making health worse. They have no reason not to invest: they exist to make a profit. So any advantage offered by healthinsurance for profit needs to outweigh the fact that they seem to have an interest in tobacco firms making profits.

  14. Alright this is getting absurd.

    * Dead people don’t pay premiums.
    * Cancer treatment is very expensive to insurers.

    Health Plans are pushing smoking cessation programs as a benefit in a huge way, because healthy members are their goal – a good goal at that and not just financially.

    Odds are the people investing are looking at numbers and paying no attention to the corporate mission. Not exactly a shocking possibility next to things like the City of Detroit investing in Krugerrands in the 70s and 80s.

    There is no conspiracy here, just the usual nonsense where corporations aren’t paying attention to the whole picture.

  15. My Grandmother has been a smoker for many years. She has emphysema and has had it for going on nine years now. To all those posting out of their hat that smokers pay less insurance in the long run, you haven’t got the slightest clue what you are talking about. Emphysema is a slow, painful and expensive way to go.


  16. I’m happy to call out BB when they post something wrong, sexist or whatever pet peve I’ve got, but telling them they *shouldn’t* post it is an asshole move. You can disagree with the substance of a post, but unless you’re an editor, shut up about the choice of content, OK?

  17. #14 has a point. $4.5B is a drop in the bucket compared to the $246B+ the tobacco settlement and taxes rake in for the government every year. (If those figures are annual, that is … I wasn’t clear.)

  18. #19 – I will. Complications from smoking tobacco are very expensive to Health Insurance companies and uninformed BB’ers (or anyone else) should not post to the contrary.

    If Health Insurance companies wanted some sinister way to save cash, they would start investing in pink hello kitty assault rifles for kids.

  19. Yes. I worked in health care for 20 years. There’s a massive misconception about the healthcare industry. The misconception is that patients are the customers. They’re not. Insurance companies are the customers. The people who pay you are your customers.

    Which is exactly why the solution to the healthcare problem in the USA is not more insurance but less. We need most healthcare to be so affordable that most of us can pay out of pocket — just as we do for food, shelter, clothing, and other necessities.

    According to David Gratzer, M.D.:

    How do you understand health policy? Two dates: October 26, 1943, and December 1, 1942.

    October 26, 1943: possibly the most important day in health policy in America. The Supreme Court does not issue a ruling; Congress does not pass any legislation; FDR does not even give a rous ing speech. The IRS rules for the first time that employers can provide health insurance and pay the premiums in pre-tax dollars. That eventually gets codified in 1954.

    How did this come about? Wage and price controls during the Second World War. Everyone knows the story about price controls. Perhaps some of the older members of this group have lived through it; perhaps you simply heard stories from your aunt or grandmother talking about rationing butter and so on. Everyone remembers the price controls, which were quickly abolished; few remember the consequences of wage controls. Employers all of a sudden needed to attract employees but couldn’t offer better wages. So they started to offer benefits, and in particular, they offered health insurance, something employers really hadn’t done before the Second World War; and what was a fringe benefit initially became the mainstay of private insurance for Americans after October 26, 1943. All of a sudden you could entice employees with health insurance.

    Why did that make sense from an employer’s point of view? Wage controls. Now you could offer them a benefit in pre-tax dollars; you got around wage controls. But for employees, it was also a good deal. Think about it: If your boss offers you $1,000 in bonus, how much are you really going to take home? Depending on what the marginal tax rate is, depending on your bracket, you might only take home $500. But he offers you $1,000 worth of health insurance, and you could potentially take home $1,000 worth of benefits. That is why, well into the 1970s and ’80s, employers offered health insurance and lots of it; why sunglasses, marital counseling, hair transplants were all at one point in time covered by health insurance. All of these things are important, but they aren’t really insurance as we understand it in other aspects of the economy.

  20. Grandma smoked for 50 years. Mom smoked for over 40 years. Last week she announced her death is upon us. A particularly fast and aggressive lung cancer … like her mother’s. We’ve got a few months at best.

    I smoked for 30 years. Pretty fair chance I will find it a stupid way to die, too.

    #2, the insurance industry makes its money by INVESTING that portion of our premiums which is not needed today to pay claims and expenses. There’s little money in reviewing and processing claims (well, denying claims helps). Premiums are high when the population is unhealthy, because claims are high. Conversely, the end result of wellness programs is better health — and reduced premiums, because of reduced claim costs. But if there’s less income from premiums, there’s less to invest, and less profit, and that’s where the money comes from. So the insurance industry has no good business reason to change the model. We can either change drivers … or change the driver’s mind … or just keep going. So what’s it gonna be?

    BTW, health plans can push smoking cessation all they want, here in the U.S. There are still magnificent sums to be made from tobacco sold in other countries. And please note that Tobacco IS turning a profit, despite everything.

    Can someone explain the moral distinction between investing in tobacco, and investing in heroin or meth? All are addictive, lethal, and highly profitable. Oh, and all of them have killed cool artists.

    And mothers.

  21. I think many are missing the key point of this entirely.

    Living in Massachusetts, my state taxes support mandatory health insurance through these providers. I’m forced to indirectly support companies making products that cause people to get sick and die under the guise of providing health care to people who couldn’t normally afford it.

    And this is a model for healthcare reform at the national level.

    Some additional excerpts from the New England Journal of Medicine letter to the editor which the Consumerist article is citing, from Harvard Science:

    “Although investing in tobacco while selling life or health insurance may seem self-defeating,” wrote the authors, “insurance firms have figured out ways to profit from both. Insurers exclude smokers from coverage or, more commonly, charge them higher premiums. Insurers profit – and smokers lose – twice over.”

    The same researchers, all of whom are affiliated with Physicians for a National Health Program, first published data about the “tobacco-insurance company connection” in 1995 in the medical journal Lancet. They argue that because private, for-profit insurers have repeatedly put their own financial gain over the public’s health, people in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom should be wary about insurance firms’ participation in care.

    They added, “These data raise a red flag about the prospects of opening up vast new markets for private insurers at public expense, as has happened in our state of Massachusetts, whose recent health care reform is often cited as a model for national reform.”

  22. @15,16: Buying stock outside of an IPO does not give money to a company except in a quite indirect sense.

    There are two likely possibilities here: one is that these investments are due to an attempt to maximize returns, and the other is that the investments are hedges against an increase in tobacco use, such that the increased health expenses are offset by the increase in the investments’ value.

    Either way, $4.5 billion across the industry doesn’t seem large enough to be very significant: Philip Morris alone has a market cap just for Philip Morris International of $86b, with Altria has $35b. On the other side, Sun Life, which the author condemns for having $1b in tobacco-related investments, has investments of at least $78b.

    I’ve read the actual letter, and it really seems like the intent of the authors was to bash insurance companies without any proper evidence to back up their argument: essentially, they use a bunch of misleading numbers, instead of percentages, and then claim that because of these investments, health insurance companies must clearly hold the interests of tobacco companies above health, without offering any evidence that this is the case.

  23. @#17 – Thank you for pointing out the blatantly obvious.

    Insurance companies DO NOT want people to smoke. When people smoke, they get disease, and when they get diseased, insurance companies have to pay. The happiest insurance company in the world is the one that has the healthiest clients: all premiums and no payouts.

    It seems to me what the health insurance companies want is two things: a profit hedge from the very companies that are causing the insurers grief, and a controlling interest in those companies. With enough shares, a health insurance company might be able to get some of its people, or at least its ideas, into a tobacco company’s board of directors. That might lead to stronger warnings on cigarette packaging, which in time may lead to less smokers.

    Ultimately, less smokers is what a health insurer wants. It’s not rocket science.

  24. Capitalism. I’m not advocating communism -Americans have a thing about this-, but in a capitalistic system you only win if somebody else loses. Is this really so hard to understand? To put it in other words (is this needed?): corporations don’t care about people, they care about profit.
    Nothing to see here.

  25. The big issue here which was mentioned in the initial post is that these health insurance companies have no interest in promoting health and wellness. They are a business interested in making money and the bottom line is everything. Unfortunately these companies have chosen to make money off of the unhealthy by charging very high premiums and seeking out methods to not pay out insurance in many cases. With a healthier populace you’re not going to see such high premiums and it will be much more difficult for these companies to avoid paying out insurance for these healthy elderly folk who have only minor health problems. This all results in far less profit for the insurance. In a socialized system in which the government is in control of the health care, not only is everyone covered but the government has a vested stake in the health of the populace. The more unhealthy the citizenry, the more money they need to shell out and thus the higher taxes become making everyone less than happy. But by promoting healthy living they can avoid paying out so much in healthy care costs and either lowering taxes or investing the money in something more beneficial for the populace.

  26. The oldest woman in the world quit smoking when she was 117. She died at 122.

    Pianist Eubie Blake smoked for 85 years, dying at 96.

    Neither died of cancer, neither spent their old age with ‘debilitating diseases’. How could that be if smoking is the killer that some claim?

    What percentage of people who smoke get lung cancer? Can you find that number? It’s *much* smaller than you might think.

    Look into the peer-reviewed *scientific literature proving* that second-hand smoke causes 3000 deaths a year in the US. Be sure you’ve got plenty of time to find it.

    Yes, smoking, for some people, has deleterious results. But the rabidity of the campaign against it — as opposed to deleterious killers like automobile pollution (post tetra-ethyl lead),and alcohol, which are not taxed to death like cigs, and which are “too big to fail” — demonstrates that anti-smokers are also irrational, bandwagon bigots.

    1. What percentage of people who smoke get lung cancer?

      Smoking is also the number one cause of laryngeal and throat cancers. I can haz laryngectomy? And mouth and tongue cancers. Google glossectomy. It’s also the number one cause of bladder cancer. Yes, your bladder. That piss-holding organ two feet away from your mouth. Smoking is also the number one cause of COPD, the lung disease formerly known as emphysema. Heart disease? Guess one of the major culprits. Let’s not even get into wrinkles and impotence.

      And you know what else? No matter what’s wrong with you, smoking will keep you from getting better because it deprives you of oxygen. You might not be allowed to have necessary surgery because the anesthesiologist won’t pass you and your blackened lungs to go into the OR. Smoking is less dangerous than putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger, but not much.

  27. This could be read as textbook case of hedging.

    You invest in an asset negatively correlated with your own business. The idea is, if your own business is doing bad, your assets are probably doing well and can make up some of the downfall (and vice versa). Its a very basic investment principle meant to smooth out income streams.

    Let’s say I own a bakery and use a lot of flour. If flour were to go up in price, it’d hurt my profits at the bakery. One thing I could do is invest in a flour company. That way, if flour does go up in price, my investment makes money, offsetting the damage that the high-priced flour does to my cake business. It in no way means I actually WANT the price of flour to increase.

    In this case, there could be other nefarious reasons at play, but it isn’t inherently the case.

  28. What percentage of people who smoke get lung cancer? Can you find that number? It’s *much* smaller than you might think.

    Good question. But in the context of tobacco use’s impact on health insurance costs, cancer of the lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas should be considered. As well as non-cancer illnesses like emphysema and cardiovascular diseases.

    I use tobacco daily. I’m using right now, in fact. But I’m not going to delude myself into thinking the risks I take are dismissively negligible.

  29. I think this is called “hedging one’s bets”.

    If I were an oil company I would invest in solar, and vice versa.

  30. If I hedge my bets on flour or solar, there’s not a moral issue. They’re not carcinogenic. That’s apples & oranges.

    The *numbers* are actually pretty *bad*.

    “Smoking cost the United States over $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct health care expenditures…” That would cover a freaking lot of unfunded health care, even after you wrote off the lost taxes and let the employers keep the “found” $97B of production.

    “Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 438,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal smoking and victims of ‘secondhand’ exposure to tobacco’s carcinogens.” FYI, that’s roughly 10 times the number killed on U.S. highways annually. That’s 9/11, 146 times, every year.

    Lung cancer would fall out of the top ten cancers(currently it’s #1 in fatalities), if there were no smoking. “Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90 percent of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80-90 percent of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) deaths.”

    “About 8.6 million people in the U.S. have at least one serious illness caused by smoking. That means that for every person who dies of a smoking-related disease, there are 20 more people who suffer from at least one serious illness associated with smoking.”

    The American Cancer Institute says about 160,000 Americans will die of lung cancer this year. The 144,000 of those deaths attributable to smoking would presumably die of something else, after a longer, better life.

    (Source for the other 4 is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via the American Lung Assoc. website. Not very *hard* to *find*.)

    Nobody dies because someone buys tobacco stock. That’s not an issue. Issue: Why should I believe a company “cares” about wellness when it invests in a product that kills? And why should we let moral values like that anywhere near anyone’s health?

  31. How strange to read that so many here believe that health insurance companies are about health at all. They are financial companies, nothing else, built to make money: finance, nothing else. The health thing is just a mere side effect.

  32. but in a capitalistic system you only win if somebody else loses. Is this really so hard to understand?

    Actually, that’s a classic fallacy. It assumes that economic systems are zero-sum.

    Trade, absent of force or fraud, is actually both-benefit (i.e. mutually beneficial), or else it would not occur (i.e. both parties would not agree to the trade).

    So wealth is capable of both being created and destroyed. Hence, it’s possible to “grow the pie” rather than merely redistribute the slices of an existing pie.

  33. I have a naive question: where does the cigarette tax money go in the USA? I would think that it SHOULD be used to help defray the cost of treating people who get sick from smoking, but without a national health care system, I don’t quite see how that would work.

  34. I am glad to live in NZ where healthcare is tax-payer funded and most people don’t have or need health insurance.

  35. @ZUZU,

    Please give some good examples of wealth creation that does not consume an equivalent amount of resources.

  36. They invest in tobacco (and distillation) because they aren’t allowed to invest in marijuana (yet). It’s only business…

  37. What percentage of people who smoke get lung cancer?

    My father-in-law had his larynx cut out of him because he smoked all his life. Too late… it’s gone metastatic. So, and I don’t often say this… fuck you.

    I may play in sewage and not pick up a disease. That still doesn’t say it’s a good idea.

  38. Trade, absent of force or fraud, is actually both-benefit (i.e. mutually beneficial)

    “A fair trade is one in which both parties walk away dissatisfied.” — I forget who.

  39. After smoking for 25 years, I’ve decided I want to quit (currently around 1/2 pack per day). When I contacted my ‘insurance’ company about cessation programs, I’m told that I need to find a mental health specialist and they allow up to 4 visits(!) per year. To find a mental health specialist I have to weed through over 2000 names from their website, calling each one to try and find someone who’ll do smoking cessation. I gave up after the first 15 or 20 calls and went out for a cigarette.
    So much for them encouraging me to quit. They also charge me more for smoking.
    And yes, I think there is a witch-hunt mentality about smoking; society in general has no problem taxing the hell out of tobacco and marginalizing us smokers more and more each day but if it’s so bad why don’t they make it illegal? That reeks of hypocrisy to me.

  40. Smoking is the current social taboo around here- bars, parks, even townships have banned it.
    Ready for some bad news? Alcohol may be next. I think in ten years that drinkers will treated like dirty bastards, the way smokers are now. Sorry.
    Note- this is pure speculation on my part, and does not reflect the opinions of BoingBoing or its constituents.

  41. So if Bill Gates establishes a foundation that invests in companies that create pollution and social injustice in the world, but turn a profit, it is “fine” because of the greater good. Is there some quibbling here? Social justice mutual funds aren’t exactly big money makers, let alone the ones that invest in truly green companies.

    How many people examine their own investments and expenditures to ensure that no person up the supply chain is harmed by economic activity? Got an Ipod? You’re promoting the use of coltan.

  42. Buying stock outside of an IPO does not give money to a company except in a quite indirect sense.

    That’s just not true. The IPO is not the only time a company can sell it’s stock. Hence the name “initial”.

    Say you’ve issued 1 million shares. Your share price is now about $100. You wanted to raise some money. You decided to issue 1 million more shares. How much can you charge for those shares? How much can you raise?

    Now, let’s say another company has issued 1 million shares. But it’s share price is now about $0.10. It wants to raise $100 million. So it issues 1 billion new shares at $0.10 each. Can it find buyers for those shares?

    Secondly, when lots of people invest their money in an industry, it would drive up the share prices. Would this not encourage more people to join this industry, forming new companies? Would those new companies find it easier to get investors?

    Is it not reasonable to expect the converse to be true as well? If everyone pulls their money out of an industry, their share prices would plummet. You cannot invest your money in an industry that goes against your own moral values, and then say you’re not responsible for it.

    “If I don’t put in my money somebody else will.” That excuse doesn’t work. If you don’t believe me, go invest in those Somali pirates. See if the cops don’t come knocking on your door.

  43. Seems like if the insurance companies wanted to hedge their bets while not incurring the negative incentives related to preservation of the tobacco industry, they could restrict themselves to purchasing call options on the underlying stocks. That way, only if there is some giant uptake in use causing a spike in the stock prices will they get funds they’ll need to care for the (large) section of the populace that smoking affects. The premium for purchasing the option would make it a less sound long term investment strategy for the bulk of their funds, so it would both drive them to use other “mundane” investments while taking the leash off to join anti-smoking or anti-tobacco movements as best benefits their insureds.

  44. (And, now that I’m not using my phone to comment and have a real keyboard…)

    The unfortunate problem with the above hedges are that given the caprice of the economy and of the lawmakers and regulators that attempt to hold rein over that economy, the “growth” of the tobacco industry is only one of many factors in the growth of their stock prices. A simple change in taxes may have a slight impact on ultimate sales of tobacco, versus a larger impact on share price. Owning shares exposes the health insurance companies to these other effects in addition to the straightforward sales growth they’d want to hedge against.

  45. TroofSeeker @48 Ready for some bad news? Alcohol may be next. I think in ten years that drinkers will treated like dirty bastards, the way smokers are now. Sorry.

    The key difference is that unless you’re a pregnant woman, or you otherwise do something incredibly stupid and dangerous like drive while intoxicated, drinking does not directly affect the health of anyone other than you.

  46. A bit late in the day I know but:

    Re: 1

    ‘The thing passionate people often miss is that ownership of a stock is not an endorsement of an industry’

    I particularly like this. So those who work for corporations claim that they are obliged to maximise shareholder value and that all else is secondary, so whilst they can see the negative impacts of the company’s behaviour their hands are tied. Any yet the shareholders cannot be endorsing said negative practices, after all they just invest their money for a return. So nobody is responsible. Nice.

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