Some of the first patients Dr. Bronwyn King cared for at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre were suffering from lung cancer. However, while doing her best to treat these people, Bronwyn was unaware she was also supporting the global production of cigarettes.
It was only during a meeting with a representative of her superannuation fund in 2010 that Bronwyn learnt some of her money was flowing to tobacco companies through the default option of her superannuation fund. “I thought it was a very bad fit for me as a cancer doctor. I had watched hundreds of people die from tobacco-related disease,” Bronwyn reflects.
In the knowledge that many of her colleagues would be similarly unhappy with their unwitting investment in the tobacco industry, Bronwyn approached First State Super which had shortly before merged with Health Super. Following numerous meetings and a presentation to the Board, First State Super undertook a detailed analysis of the issue and in 2012, proudly made the decision to go tobacco free.
Scores of coffees and countless boardroom presentations later, Bronwyn is delighted with the willingness of the finance industry to engage and act on this issue. The work of the Tobacco Free Portfolios now has a global focus.
In June 2015, Clare Payne – a lawyer with a background in ethics in banking and finance – joined Tobacco Free Portfolios. She now has the role of Chief of Global Strategy and has represented Tobacco Free Portfolios at multiple global conventions.
In 2016, Dr Rachel Melsom joined Tobacco Free Portfolios as UK Director, with the generous support of Cancer Research UK.