Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates Join to Combat Global Tobacco Epidemic

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
July 24, 2008

New York, N.Y. - Michael Bloomberg and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today announced a truly historic commitment of $500 million to the global fight against tobacco use, focused on helping governments in developing countries implement proven policies and programs to reduce tobacco use.

Today's announcement by Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates highlights both the devastating scope of the global tobacco epidemic and the fact that it is entirely preventable if nations seize this opportunity to implement proven solutions. Mayor Bloomberg and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are true champions of global health, and they have provided unprecedented leadership and commitment in fighting tobacco use, the world's leading cause of preventable death. Their announcement challenges nations to provide additional resources and take urgent action that can save millions of lives.

Today's announcement includes and builds on the $125 million initiative that Mayor Bloomberg launched in 2006 and is already producing meaningful progress around the world. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is honored and grateful to be one of the five implementing organizations for the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, 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. We look forward to working with our partners, Mayor Bloomberg and the Gates Foundation to accelerate and expand the progress that has been made under this initiative.

Tobacco use killed one hundred million people in the 20th century, and if current trends continue, it will claim one billion lives in the 21st century, according to the WHO. Tobacco use already kills 5.4 million people a year and the epidemic is worsening, especially in the developing world where more than 80 percent of tobacco-caused deaths will occur in the coming decades.

The good news is that we know how to stop this epidemic, and 157 nations have committed themselves to doing so by ratifying the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the world's first international treaty devoted entirely to public health. This treaty provides a road map for successfully reducing tobacco use if rigorously and fully implemented.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bloomberg and 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.

By implementing many of these solutions under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, New York City has shown the world that it is possible to quickly and dramatically reduce tobacco use. The Bloomberg Initiative has already contributed to significant progress in implementing these measures around the world, in countries including China, Egypt, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines and Turkey. The additional resources announced today by Mayor Bloomberg and the Gates Foundation will accelerate the implementation of these proven solutions and save even more lives.