THE KROGER CO. | Public Health Costs Created by the Sale of Tobacco Products

Status
Filed
AGM date
Previous AGM date
Proposal number
4
Resolution details
Company ticker
KR
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Public health
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Shareholder
Company sector
Consumer Staples
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED, shareholders ask that the board commission and disclose a report on the external public health costs created by the sale of tobacco products by our company (the “Company”) and the manner in which such costs affect the vast majority of its shareholders who rely on overall market returns.
The negative health and productivity impacts from consumption of tobacco products impose $1.2 trillion in social damage; tobacco’s unpriced social burden amounts to almost 3 percent of global GDP annually.[1] Yet, in spite of the Company dedicating an entire division, Kroger Health, to addressing its customers’ healthcare needs[2], as well as the overwhelming evidence that tobacco - a known carcinogen that impairs respiratory function - significantly prejudices the health outcomes of smokers, the Company continues to sell tobacco products in its stores. In 2019 the company discontinued the sale of e-cigarettes in response to news reports of vaping-related illnesses and deaths. The science on cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products is settled. They cause illness and death.
These public health costs, year after year, are devastating to economic growth and further compound the financial devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet Kroger does not disclose any methodology to address the public health costs of its tobacco sales. Thus, shareholders have no guidance as to costs the Company is externalizing and consequent economic harm. This information is essential to shareholders, the majority of whom are beneficial owners with broadly diversified interests.
But Kroger undermines its commitments to promoting good health and ultimately the interests of its diversified shareholders by not disclosing the social and environmental costs and risks imposed on stakeholders, even when these costs and risks threaten society, the economy and the performance of other companies. All stakeholders are unalterably harmed when companies impose costs on the economy that lower GDP, which reduces equity value.[3] While the Company may profit by ignoring costs it externalizes, diversified shareholders will ultimately pay these costs, and they have a right to ask what they are.
The Company’s disclosures do not address this issue, because they do not address the public health costs that Kroger’s tobacco sales impose on shareholders as diversified investors who must fund retirement, education, public goods and other critical social needs. This is a separate social issue of great importance. A report would help shareholders determine whether these externalized costs and the economic harm they may create ultimately serve their interests.
Supporting statement
[1]https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/economics/econ_facts/index.htm
[2]Kroger Health - Business & Community Health Solutions
[3]https://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/documents/universal_ownership_full.pdf

How other organisations have declared their voting intentions

Organisation name Declared voting intentions Rationale
Kutxabank Gestion SGIIC SAU. For

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