As an investment, even with all its potential upside, I wouldn’t touch Lorillard. I can’t say that I apply strict socially conscious guidelines to all my investments. But, consider this: According to a 2008 report on cigarette marketing to blacks from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, “nearly 80%of all smokers start before the age of 18 and, not surprisingly, the vast majority of kids smoke the three most heavily advertised brands. One of these heavily advertised brands, Newport, is the cigarette brand leader among African-American youths in the United States. Eight out of every ten black, youth smokers smoke Newport cigarettes.”
While blacks don’t smoke in larger proportions than the general U.S. population, they do suffer disproportionately from health complications brought on by smoking. In a case like this, where a company relies on a single product that potentially wreaks such harm on African American health, I’m not buying shares. I’m not sure I would invest in any cigarette company, for that matter. Would you?
Where do you draw the line? Do you leave your social or political beliefs out of investment decisions?