Harvard University has sold its shares in firms that manufacture tobacco, saying it could not justify investment in an industry that brings "unjustified risk of harm to other human beings," a newspaper said Wednesday.

Harvard President Derek Bok publicly released the university's decision on May 18 in a letter to three students at Harvard's School of Public Health who had been demanding the school divest from firms that make cigarettes, The Boston Globe reported."In reaching its decision, the corporation was motivated by a desire not to be associated as a shareholder with companies engaged in significant sales of products that create a substantial and unjustified risk of harm to other human beings," Bok said in his letter.

Bok said the decision to divest was made in September 1989 and the sales were completed in March.