May. 14 2015
Washington, DC – The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids tonight will present Michael R. Bloomberg with its highest honor, the Champion Award, in recognition of his unparalleled leadership in the fight against tobacco.
As mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg implemented a comprehensive strategy to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, leading to dramatic reductions in smoking rates and contributing to a significant increase in the average life expectancy of New Yorkers.
As a philanthropist, he launched the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use in 2007, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested more than $600 million to support proven tobacco control strategies in over 40 countries. More than 1.7 billion people are now protected with smoke-free laws and other effective tobacco control policies.
“Michael Bloomberg has been the catalyst for truly historic progress in reducing tobacco use and saving lives both in the United States and around the world,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “As mayor, he greatly improved the health of New Yorkers through the Smoke Free Air Act and other initiatives, and he inspired other cities, states and even countries to take similar action. The Bloomberg Initiative has fundamentally transformed tobacco control across the globe, saving the lives and improving the health of millions of people.”
During his first year as mayor, Mr. Bloomberg proposed and fought for the Smoke Free Air Act, which made all New York City restaurants, bars and other indoor workplaces smoke-free in 2003. This law sparked a movement that swept the U.S. and the world. Today, 30 U.S. states, hundreds of U.S. cities and 48 countries have similar laws, protecting 200 million people in the U.S. and over 1.4 billion people worldwide.
Under the Bloomberg Administration, New York City also raised tobacco taxes, ran hard-hitting media campaigns, helped smokers trying to quit, banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, became the first large U.S. city to raise the minimum sale age for tobacco products to 21, and passed a law prohibiting tobacco price discounts and setting a minimum price for cigarettes. As a result, smoking rates declined far faster in New York City than in the U.S. as a whole, and, in the twelve years he was in office, life expectancy for New Yorkers rose by three years to a record high 80.9 years.
As a philanthropist, Mr. Bloomberg has given more than $3.3 billion in support of a wide variety of causes including education, the environment, government innovation, the arts and public health.
In 2007, his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, launched the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. Focused on low- and middle-income countries, the Bloomberg Initiative has spurred unprecedented change in countries with the highest rates of tobacco use, including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Russia.
Responding to the tobacco industry’s growing use of trade agreements to fight tobacco control laws, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently launched the Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund to help countries defend their laws.
Mr. Bloomberg will be honored at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ annual awards gala tonight in Washington, DC. Tobacco-Free Kids will also honor its Youth Advocates of the Year, young leaders in the fight against tobacco use.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people and costing the nation about $170 billion in health care bills each year. Worldwide, tobacco kills about six million people this year and is projected to kill one billion people worldwide this century without bold action now to prevent it.
For more information on the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, visit www.tobaccofreekids.org.