Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced the selection of the University of Bath in the UK, the Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) in Thailand, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (the Union) in France to direct a three-year, $20 million initiative to monitor deceptive tobacco industry practices.
Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in March, STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products) will publish investigative reports detailing the industry's lobbying tactics and marketing strategies, as well as provide tools and training materials to low- and middle-income countries so they are better able to push back against the industry's influence. The $20 million in funding will be used to update and expand tobaccotactics.org, a research portal run by the University of Bath's Tobacco Control Research Group; the Tobacco Industry Interference Index (16 pages, PDF), which is produced by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance at Thammasat University; and the Tobacco Atlas, a compendium of national and international statistics and public health interventions co-produced by the Union and its sub-grantee, New York-based Vital Strategies. In addition to supporting detailed analyses of whistleblower documents, STOP will identify and target policy windows where timely interventions can produce significant impacts and will award grants to NGOs in developing countries to organizations working to combat industry influence.
"The groups that will power STOP have pushed back on Big Tobacco in every corner of the globe," said Kelly Henning, director of Public Health Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "In exposing the false claims of tobacco marketing campaigns, they have strengthened public health efforts — especially where the industry targets the most vulnerable. Now they can turn the tables on a global industry that continues to kill more than seven million people each year."
"The tobacco industry remains the greatest barrier to improving public health," said Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath. "The new watchdog will enable countries around the world to implement the lifesaving public health policies that the tobacco industry has been relentlessly obstructing. It does so by bringing together leaders in investigative research, tobacco industry monitoring, tobacco control policy advocacy, and tactical communications programs to work closely with current Bloomberg initiatives."