UPDATE: Penn Says Tobacco No “Moral Evil”

University endowment had considered divesting from tobacco products.

[Update 1:26 p.m.] “A proposal for the University of Pennsylvania to divest its $7.7 billion endowment from tobacco companies died on Friday without a vote by the board of trustees,” the Inky reports. “Board Chair David L. Cohen said tobacco does not qualify as a ‘moral evil,’ even though it causes serious health problems.”

[Original] Penn officials are considering whether the university’s endowment should divest itself of ownership in tobacco products after 530 senior faculty members signed a letter urging the action.

Penn’s policy targets activities that are “a moral evil” for divestment. Advocates say tobacco products help kill up to 6 million people a year around the world.  “If all of that doesn’t constitute a moral evil, then we’re not sure what the definition of moral evil would be,” said said Peter Conn, a retired English professor who helped organize the campaign.

The university has a $7.7 billion endowment. Officials will not say how much of that is tied up in tobacco investments. The university has invoked its divestment policy just twice before: In 1986, the university banned companies doing business in apartheid South Africa;  in 2006 it divested of oil companies working in Sudan. (Inquirer)

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