The American Cancer Society has announced a $7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to coordinate and lead a global coalition of public health organizations that will use evidence-based approaches to address the tobacco epidemic in Africa.
The African Tobacco Control Consortium, whose members include ACS, the Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative, the Africa Tobacco Control Alliance, the Framework Convention Alliance, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, will work to advance an ambitious tobacco control agenda across the forty-six countries of sub-Saharan Africa through policies such as banning advertisments for tobacco products, raising tobacco taxes, issuing product warning labels, and promoting smoke-free environments in line with the requirements of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The consortium will also advocate for further tobacco control resources in the region, work to protect existing laws from tobacco industry efforts to overturn them, and conduct research to improve and inform future tobacco control work.
In Africa, a part of the world where HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other infectious diseases are widespread, cancer is emerging as a serious public health threat. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, much of the rise is attributable to tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world, but if current trends continue, tobacco use will cause one billion deaths worldwide during the twenty-first century.
"We are excited to be part of this important new effort," said American Cancer Society CEO John R. Seffrin. "Tobacco companies have begun to target developing countries as tobacco control efforts in high-resource countries have yielded tough restrictions, and we will make sure that the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have the information and tools to protect their citizens from preventable diseases and death caused by tobacco."