Bloomberg Philanthropies Continues its Life-Saving Leadership In Global Fight Against Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Mar. 22 2012

SINGAPORE – New York City Mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg announced today at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore that he will commit an additional $220 million to the global fight against tobacco use, bringing his total commitment to more than $600 million. Today's announcement continues the unprecedented and visionary leadership Mayor Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies have provided in combating the global tobacco epidemic, the world's number one cause of preventable death.

Launched six years ago, the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use has been the catalyst for historic progress in the global fight against tobacco use and is saving millions of lives around the world. The new four-year commitment will accelerate efforts to implement proven, cost-effective strategies to reduce tobacco use, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries where 80 percent of the world's smokers live. It is also critical to exposing and countering the relentless efforts of the tobacco companies to target these countries and defeat their efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives.

The funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies will enable the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use to continue assisting governments and non-governmental organizations in implementing proven measures to reduce tobacco use. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is honored to be a partner in this initiative, along with 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/International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. We are also grateful for the strong partnership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in this initiative.

Mayor Bloomberg's commitment and leadership have made the Bloomberg Initiative a global public health force, helping to protect nearly one-third of the world's population with at least one effective tobacco control policy.  There has been substantial progress since the Bloomberg Initiative began, with effective tobacco control policies implemented in at least 30 countries, covering 1.3 billion people and saving as many as 3.7 million lives. Since 2007:

  • 18 countries have enacted 100 percent smoke-free laws, including Brazil, the largest country in the world to go smoke-free. Many countries also have sub-national laws that make individual states or municipalities smoke-free.
  • At least 12 countries have significantly strengthened their tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship bans, and 35 countries have graphic warning labels covering at least 30 percent of the cigarette pack.
  • A number or countries have significantly raised tobacco taxes with the goal of reducing tobacco use and saving lives, including Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Turkey and Ukraine.

While significant progress has been made, there is still much to be done.  Tobacco use killed one hundred million people in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it will claim one billion lives in the 21st century. That translates into nearly 6 million people a year, accounting for one in 10 deaths among adults worldwide.  And the tobacco industry remains the ruthless cause of this epidemic, peddling its deadly and addictive products around the world and fighting policies to reduce tobacco use at every turn.

The good news is that nations are fighting back with proven interventions to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world's first public health treaty, obligates ratifying countries to implement these proven strategies. In 2008, the WHO released a report that identified a package of six cost-effective solutions that are mandated by the provisions of the FCTC, have been proven to reduce tobacco use and should be implemented in every nation. Called the MPOWER package, these solutions require nations to:

  • Monitor tobacco use and assess the impact of tobacco prevention and cessation efforts;
  • Protect everyone from secondhand smoke with laws that require smoke-free workplaces and public places;
  • Offer help to every tobacco user to quit;
  • Warn and effectively educate every person about the dangers of tobacco use with strong, pictorial health warnings and hard-hitting, sustained media campaigns;
  • Enact and enforce comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships and on the use of misleading terms such as "light" and "low-tar;" and
  • Raise the price of tobacco products by significantly increasing tobacco taxes.

The World Health Organization has identified these measures as public health “best buys” that deliver a tremendous return on investment, improving health, saving lives and reducing health care costs.

 

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