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AUSTRALIA: Government Invests in Philip Morris
June 26th, 2006

The New South Wales government has reportedly invested in the owner of the world's biggest tobacco company.

The NSW Treasury has secretly purchased a significant stake in the owner of Philip Morris, which makes Marlboro and Longbeach cigarettes.

The government has not disclosed the size of its investment in parent company Altria Group, but documents show it is a top-10 holding in one of Treasury's two international share portfolios.

NSW Cancer Council chief executive Andrew Penman said the Government should ditch the Altria shares immediately.

"It is highly hypocritical for the government to convey strong personal health messages while at the same time profit by owning shares of a multibillion-a-year cigarette company," Dr Penman said.

Altria booked a net profit of more than $14 billion last year and owns seven of the top 20 cigarette brands around the world.

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