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New U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco’s Harmful Effects Shows that Progress Is Possible, but More Work Remains

By Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Fifty years ago the U.S. Surgeon General released a landmark report that linked smoking to cancer and fundamentally changed public attitudes around tobacco. Since then, considerable progress has been made in the United States – smoking rates have been cut in half since the 1964 report was released. Strong policies have banned smoking from many public spaces and prohibit tobacco advertising in many media outlets. And taxes on cigarettes have been increased federally by many states and localities.

To commemorate the report’s anniversary, the U.S. Surgeon General released an updated report on the tobacco epidemic. The new study notes declines in U.S. smoking prevalence, and that’s good news, but the report also indicates that much more work is still needed to end the deadly tobacco epidemic.

A Record Setting Year for Clean Energy and Decline of U.S. Reliance on Coal

Reducing America’s reliance on energy from coal and moving towards cleaner, alternative energy sources is central to the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ environmental work. By partnering with the Sierra Club to launch the Beyond Coal campaign, our support is helping to move the U.S. off of coal by 2020. Today, the Sierra Club today announced the following major news:

2013 was a momentous year for clean energy, as solar and wind generation hit record highs, prices plummeted, and wind and solar took on increased market share from coal. Installation of renewable energy capacity outpaced coal, oil, and nuclear growth combined. The coal industry saw numerous setbacks, and nationwide thirty percent of existing coal plants in the United States are now announced to retire — 158 plants, representing over 20% of the nation’s coal power. Not a single coal plant has broken ground over the past three years.

Sustainable Transportation Benefits Both Public Health and the Environment

By the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

Sustainable urban transportation is one of the primary focus areas for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program. Getting people out of private vehicles and into public transportation is important for reducing the injuries, deaths and diseases associated with traffic crashes, carbon emissions, and physical inactivity. To promote safer urban transport, Bloomberg Philanthropies partners with EMBARQ, a top sustainable urban transportation organization and a program of the World Resources Institute. EMBARQ advises both government officials and the private sector on transportation and urban development. Bloomberg Philanthropies supports their work in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Turkey, helping to ensure that sustainable transport initiatives, such as citywide bike lanes and Bus Rapid Transit systems, are as safe as possible.

Colorado Proposal Would Lead the Nation with New Clean Air Rules

By Mark Brownstein, Associate Vice President & Chief Counsel of Environmental Defense Fund’s US Climate and Energy Program

Colorado is in the midst of an oil and gas boom brought about by hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Proponents of this new development cite economic and environmental benefits, and there’s certainly something to the argument that new natural gas is helping to drive dirty old coal out of Colorado’s energy mix – and the nation’s.

But whatever the benefits may be, there is another side to the story. There is no escaping the fact that oil and gas development is a heavy industrial activity that poses significant risks to public health and the environment. While much can be done by both government and producers to minimize these risks, there are too many communities where intensive oil and gas drilling is taking place where citizens feel like nothing is being done and no one cares. This is precisely why the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with support from funders such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, is fighting for stricter rules and tougher enforcement.

Mike Bloomberg’s Groundbreaking Use of Public-Private Partnerships

During the Bloomberg Administration, New York City expanded the scope and purpose of private sector collaborations, and improved their effectiveness and management structure, according to a report released today by Freedman Consulting, LLC and Bloomberg Philanthropies at the inaugural Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York City. A dozen non-profit organizations working directly with New York City agencies have raised more than $1.4 billion in philanthropic contributions collectively since 2002.

Hard-Hitting Road Safety Campaigns Help Save Lives

By Elena Altieri, Communications Officer, World Health Organization Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, motorists cited protection from rain, dust, and even being seen transporting a woman other than one’s wife as benefits of wearing a helmet when driving their motorcycle. A few mentioned escaping fines. Sadly, no one mentioned safety. The fact is: wearing a helmet can decrease the risk of injury by 70% and death by 40%.

One pillar of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program is the development of evidence-based mass media campaigns designed to change attitudes and behavior towards road safety. Developed after extensive research and testing with target audiences, the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program has produced and implemented 19 campaigns, totaling 33 television commercials and 17 radio spots, across 10 countries. In Brazil, Cambodia and Mexico, these hard-hitting campaigns were the first ever public campaigns to show realistic and graphic consequences, including injury and death.

World Polio Day

By Tenley E. Albright, MD, Director of MIT Collaborative Initiatives

There is much to celebrate today in the global fight against polio. But our job is not yet complete.

In the 1950s, 33,000 or more Americans were crippled or killed by polio every year. The last known case in the U.S. was in 1979. When I had polio as a child, there was no cure, no treatment – no one even knew what caused it or how it spread – and certainly there were no vaccines.

Coal on the Decline: 150 Plant Closures and Counting

By Michael R. Bloomberg

The Sierra Club, Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners have reached a big milestone in our campaign to move the United States beyond coal. With the announced retirement of the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, 150 coal plants, or more than 60,000 megawatts, have either already closed or are on schedule to close. During the last two years, action by hundreds of individual communities, in partnership with the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies, has led us to this key marker—one plant at a time. Coal is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 40 percent of total U.S. emissions. Retiring much of our existing coal fleet is our best opportunity to lower carbon pollution in the United States. Already, this shift away from coal has helped drive 2012 carbon dioxide emissions in the United States to their lowest level in two decades.

Mike Bloomberg Urges Obama Administration to Avoid a "Colossal Public Health Mistake"

In today’s New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg wrote about his disappointment in the Obama Administration’s decision to weaken tobacco control protections in the latest draft of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated by the President’s team and 11 other Pacific nations. He wrote, in part:

“[T]the Obama administration appears to be on the verge of bowing to pressure from a powerful special-interest group, the tobacco industry, in a move that would be a colossal public health mistake and potentially contribute to the deaths of tens of millions of people around the world.”

Read the entire piece on The New York Times website.

Would You Smoke These?

By Sarah England, Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Team

If your answer is “no,” you’re not alone. Research shows shocking images that provoke an emotional response are the most effective at motivating smokers to quit. That’s why Bloomberg Philanthropies and our partners work so hard to push governments to make them mandatory on every tobacco product—especially in countries where smoking rates are highest.

As a result of our efforts and those of countless health advocates, Vietnam and Russia (home to 15 and 60 million adult smokers) recently began enforcing regulations that mandate vivid depictions of the negative effects of tobacco on cigarette packs sold throughout those countries.