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AMA drops tobacco stocks

CHICAGO -- The American Medical Association has sold about $1.4 million in tobacco stocks owned by its pension fund, a spokeswoman said.

The stock in cigarette producers R.J. Reynolds Industries and Philip Morris was sold in recent weeks, the spokeswoman said Monday.

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The AMA had been under pressure from some elements of its membership, including residents and medical students, to divest itself of the stock. They argued it was hypocritical for a medical group to own stock in cigarette manufacturers.

'The publicity from the fact that the AMA owned stock in these companies has hurt,' the spokeswoman said. 'All our work to get people to stop smoking was lost.'

AMA officers had argued during the group's annual House of Delegates meeting in June that federal securities laws prevented the AMA's pension fund managers from boycotting a particular type of investment.

The spokeswoman said pressure from the media may have led to the decision to divest. Editorial writers and cartoonists had a 'field day' after the House of Delegates voted not to divest, she said.

The AMA sponsors an anti-smoking campaign and refuses to accept cigarette advertising in its journals. Thge spokeswoman said many of the same publications that blasted the AMA's investment policies have resisted AMA pressure to stop accepting tobacco comoany advertising.

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The AMA pension fund has assets totalling about $139 million.

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