Investment in tobacco stocks voted legal again

August 21, 2009 7:53:02 AM PDT
Tobacco might be dangerous to your health, but officials in one southwestern Pennsylvania county have decided their pension fund cannot live without it. As a result, the Washington County Retirement Board voted 2-1 to do away with a ban imposed in 1997 that prevented its pension fund from investing in tobacco-related stocks.

Commissioner Bracken Burns angrily opposed lifting the ban, reading an eight-minute statement on the health ills of tobacco. But Commissioner Larry Maggi and Controller Michael Namie, the other board members, voted to reverse the ban Thursday.

They say the tobacco ban was largely responsible for the fund underperforming by 30 percent. Taxpayers contributed a record $2.4 million to shore up the fund this year.