Thursday, July 24, 2008

Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates Join to Combat Global Tobacco Epidemic

Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates Join to Combat Global Tobacco Epidemic
Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates take on tobacco, "which kills more people than any other single agent."

Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates Join to Combat Global Tobacco Epidemic

Bloomberg and Gates commit $500 million and call on governments to implement proven interventions to reduce tobacco use, save lives. More here:

NEW YORK -- Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates today announced joint
efforts to combat the global tobacco epidemic. A combined investment of $500
million will help governments in developing countries implement proven
policies and increase funding for tobacco control. Unless urgent action is
taken, as many as one billion people this century—more than two-thirds in
the developing world—could die from tobacco-caused illnesses. Paula Johns,
executive director of Brazil's Alliance for the Control of Tobacco Use, and
broadcast journalist Charlie Rose joined Bloomberg and Gates for the

Bloomberg's Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, which was established in
2005 and includes a $125 million commitment, will be extended with a new
$250 million, four-year commitment. This brings Bloomberg's total commitment
to date to more than $375 million.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will invest $125
million over five years to fight the tobacco epidemic, including a $24
million grant to the Bloomberg Initiative. In addition to the grant to
Bloomberg, the Gates Foundation will support complementary efforts to reduce
high rates of tobacco use in countries such as China and India, as well as
to help prevent the tobacco epidemic from taking root in Africa.

The Bloomberg Initiative supports projects that increase tobacco tax,
change the image of tobacco, protect nonsmokers from exposure to other
people's smoke and help people quit. The Initiative supports the public
sector's efforts to educate and advocate for change, and a rigorous tobacco
use and policy monitoring system. The Gates Foundation funding to Bloomberg
will accelerate implementation of the MPOWER package of proven tobacco
control strategies and build economic evidence to support tobacco control
over the next two years.

"When I announced this initiative, I said that I hoped others would step
forward," said Bloomberg. "I'm delighted Bill and Melinda Gates are
supporting one of the most important public health efforts of our time. Our
commitments will help governments confront the tobacco epidemic by
implementing the proven MPOWER package. This means assuring well-staffed
tobacco control programs, raising tobacco taxes, running hard-hitting public
information campaigns, creating comprehensive smoke-free public places and
banning tobacco advertising."

"Tobacco-caused diseases have emerged as one of the greatest health
challenges facing developing countries," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the
Gates Foundation. "The good news is, we know what it takes to save millions
of lives, and where efforts exist, they are working. We are pleased to join
with Mayor Bloomberg, who has made the fight against tobacco a priority in
New York City and around the world."

Bloomberg and Gates called on government and business leaders to make the
fight against tobacco a higher priority by increasing resources for tobacco
control and implementing proven policies to reduce tobacco use. According to
the World Health Organization, 3.9 billion people live in
low-and-middle-income countries that spend less than $20 million dollars per
year combined on tobacco control. Today, these same countries collect more
than $66 billion in tobacco taxes.

When New York City went smoke-free in 2002, only one state and no
countries were smoke-free. Today many states and countries are smoke-free.
Success stories in tobacco control are emerging from around the globe: 

  • 24 states (including New York and Washington states) and the District
    of Columbia now have laws in effect that require 100% smoke free
    restaurants and bars.


  • Uruguay, UK, France, New Zealand, Italy and Ireland are all


  • Cities such as Mexico City, Mexico; Abuja, Nigeria; Beijing, China;
    and other Olympic cities are implementing smoke-free laws and regulations.


  • Uruguay, Turkey and other countries are implementing the comprehensive
    tobacco control policies of the MPOWER package.


  • Egypt has recently raised its tobacco tax.


  • Brazil and other countries are using graphic pictorial warnings on
    cigarette packs to warn the public about the dangers of smoking.


  • The Philippines has enacted a ban on tobacco advertising in all forms
    of mass media.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg and World Health Organization
Director-General Margaret Chan released the U.N.'s evidence-based MPOWER
package to help governments adopt the most effective measures to counter
tobacco use. Although MPOWER has been proven to rapidly decrease tobacco use
and save lives in New York City and elsewhere, less than 5 percent of the
world's population is covered by any of the MPOWER interventions.

The six components of the MPOWER package are:

Monitor tobacco use and the policies to prevent it

Protect people from tobacco smoke

Offer people help to quit tobacco use

Warn about the dangers of tobacco

Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and

Raise taxes on tobacco

"Bill and I want to highlight the enormity of this problem and catalyze a
global movement of governments and civil society to stop the tobacco
epidemic," said Bloomberg. "We challenge governments to show leadership by
implementing tobacco control measures, as an increasing number are doing,
and to increase funding for these efforts."

Tobacco Background

  • There are more than 1 billion smokers in the world today (more than 1
    in 4 adults), and tobacco kills more people than any other single agent.


  • Smoking kills half of smokers unless they quit, and many more are
    disabled by tobacco. Those killed by tobacco lose on average 10-15 years
    of life. Second-hand smoke causes lung disease, cancer, low birth weight
    and increased infant death as well as other problems in those exposed.


  • More than 5 million people are killed by tobacco each year – more than
    AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. In this century, unless urgent
    action is taken tobacco could kill more than 1 billion people.


  • More than 80 percent of the world’s tobacco-related deaths will be in
    low- and middle-income countries by 2030.


    • The poorest households in Bangladesh spend almost 10 times as much
      on tobacco as on education.


    • Medical costs from smoking impoverish more than 50 million people in
      China; with 350 million smokers – a third of the world’s total – China
      suffers about a million deaths from tobacco each year.


    • Indonesians spend on average 2.5 times more on tobacco than on
      education, and 3.2 times more on tobacco than on health. Traditionally
      viewed as unacceptable practice, smoking among Indonesian women is now
      seen as modern and trendy, especially in large cities.


    • India's toll of premature, tobacco-related deaths is expected to
      rise from 700,000 annually to 930,000 by the year 2010, with bidis
      currently accounting for 77 percent of the market for smoked tobacco.
      Studies indicate that bidi smokers are five to six times more likely to
      develop lung cancer than nonsmokers.


  • The effectiveness of tobacco control interventions is well established
    by rigorous scientific studies; implementing proven programs can reduce
    smoking rates where they are high and prevent an increase where rates are

About the Bloomberg Initiative

  • The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use supports public sector
    and civil society efforts to implement proven strategies in tobacco
    control in low- and middle-income countries, particularly China, India,
    Indonesia, Russian Federation and Bangladesh.


  • The Bloomberg Initiative supports training programs, journalism
    workshops, in-country development of mass media public education
    campaigns, capacity building and global monitoring through a WHO report on
    country-specific tobacco control policies and a population-based,
    house-to-house adult survey of tobacco use prevalence.


  • One aspect of the Bloomberg Initiative is to provide tobacco control
    funds to low- and middle-income countries through a competitive grants
    program (;
    more than 125 grants have been awarded in 36 countries.


  • The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use is implemented though
    five partner organizations: the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, the Johns Hopkins
    Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Health Organization and the
    World Lung Foundation.

Tobacco Control in New York City

  • New York City's tobacco control program has included raising the
    tobacco tax, making virtually all workplaces smoke-free, running
    hard-hitting public education campaigns, helping smokers quit and
    rigorously monitoring smoking rates and program results.


  • For the 10 years before New York City's program was implemented, there
    was no decrease in smoking rates. Between 2002 and 2007, under Bloomberg's
    leadership, New York City's comprehensive program reduced adult smoking by
    300,000 smokers, from 21.6% to 16.9%, preventing 100,000 deaths in years
    to come. Teen smoking decreased from 17.6 percent in 2001 to 8.5 percent
    in 2007, a level nearly two-thirds lower than the latest available
    national teen smoking rate.

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