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At the scale of the average individual investor, I don't think there is any influence one way or the other on stock price or company operations by buying or not buying--and whatever effect there might be would only be temporary, as was pointed out.

However, the story doesn't end there. While the actions of the investor may not have any influence on the company, they do have an influence on the investor him/herself, and that's where the real story is. Do you want your wishes aligned with higher tobacco profits? Higher oil company profits? Or not? Or do you care (i.e. "If it's legal, it must be OK, I'll invest in it, and let the US Congress choose my morals and values for me")

All of our actions go into making up who we are, and who we are influences those around us as well. It may not be directly observable or quantifiable, but it's real nevertheless. Who do you want to be? Your actions can help take you there...or not.
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