Bloomberg Philanthropies, the private foundation of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has pledged $220 million over the next four years to help curb tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.
Announced at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore, the pledge boosts to $600 million the foundation's total commitment to fighting tobacco use globally and will support the ongoing activities of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, which was launched in 2006 to encourage countries around the world to raise tobacco taxes, educate the public about the negative impacts of tobacco use, implement smoke-free laws for public spaces, and urge tobacco users to quit.
Led by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CDC Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the World Health Organization, and the World Lung Foundation, the initiative will work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to implement MPOWER policies aimed at reducing death and disability due to tobacco use; foster the development of evidence-based policy change at the country level; and focus on raising the price of tobacco through higher tobacco taxes, which the initiative believes is the single most effective way to reduce tobacco use. In addition, the initiative aims to develop new strategies that build on successes in tobacco control and other strategies such as tobacco industry monitoring; litigation and advocacy support challenging tobacco industry efforts to thwart implementation of MPOWER policies or other related efforts; and providing financial support to governments for the implementation of anti-tobacco initiatives.
"The unwavering dedication of the hard-working tobacco control experts in our supported countries has led to tremendous advancements in combating the global tobacco epidemic," said Bloomberg Philanthropies public health programs director Kelly Henning. "With this new commitment, we will continue to accelerate the tobacco control movement in the next four years. Almost three-quarters of the world's people living in low and middle income countries are not yet covered by even one MPOWER policy — there is still much more lifesaving work to be done."