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California Pension Board Backs Off Tobacco Divestment Study

Luciano Belviso / Flickr
 

Luciano Belviso / Flickr

(AP) — The nation's largest public pension system may be backing off its decision to study reinvesting in tobacco stocks it sold off 15 years ago.

The California Public Employees' Retirement System investment committee this week requested a two-year study to help decide whether its obligation to maximize returns requires repurchasing tobacco stocks.

CalPERS spokeswoman Rosanna Westmoreland says the chairman of the investment committee agreed Wednesday to reconsider the tobacco divestment study approved two days earlier.

She says the study will be reconsidered at next month's meeting.

CalPERS consultants found last year that the tobacco divestments have cost the pension system as much as $3 billion in lost returns. Public health advocates criticized the board for considering buying tobacco stocks, which they said would send the wrong message.