Dutch Bank Bans Loans to Tobacco Industry on Health Grounds

Amsterdam: The Netherlands’ third-largest bank ABN Amro said Wednesday that it is ratcheting up its battle against smoking and will no longer extend credit to clients in the tobacco industry.

As per a report by the Guardian, the Amsterdam-based bank’s decision came as it announced a new partnership with the national Heart Foundation in the fight against smoking, which kills some 20,000 people every year in the country of 17 million, according to a recent study.

Marianne Verhaar, the bank’s director of relationship management for institutions and charitable organizations said their core value is that everybody has a right to be healthy. She said that the core activity of those in the tobacco industry is not compatible with their core values.

The move also stops any new investment in the tobacco industry and is the first by a major bank in The Netherlands, the Trouw newspaper reported.

Existing contracts with tobacco industry clients will be respected, but will not be renewed and no new contracts will be signed, an ABM Amro official told the daily.

Verhaar said ABN Amro was planning to lobby others in the Dutch financial sector to follow its lead.

She said the bank, which has more than six million clients worldwide, decided to change its tobacco policy around the end of April.

Its new partnership with the Heart Foundation includes looking at ways to integrate a payment-sharing app with the foundation’s fund-raising activities.

A recent study by the Amsterdam-based SEO Economic Research company estimated the cost of smoking to Dutch society at around 2,000 euros ($2,200) per person per year.

The World Health Organisation attributes more than seven million deaths world-wide to tobacco use every year.