The American Public Health Association has joined a nationwide campaign to urge universities, pension funds and private investors to dump their tobacco stocks.

The campaign "is based on the moral contradiction of making a profit by killing people," said Anne Marie O'Keefe, a member of the board of the Tobacco Divestment Project in Boston. "We're talking about the moral equivalent of the Medellin cartel selling stocks on the exchange."Medical schools and schools of public health are a particular target of the campaign, the American Public Health Association said.

"To invest in the promotion of tobacco use will adversely affect world health and is, at its very core, contrary to the goals of many institutions," said Dr. Joyce Lashof, dean of the school of public health at the University of California, Berkeley.

Johns Hopkins, Harvard and the City University of New York are among the institutions that have already announced they would sell all of their tobacco holdings.