Michael R. Bloomberg Commits $360 Million to Reduce Tobacco Use – Raising Total Giving on Tobacco Control Efforts to Nearly $1 Billion
New Funding Builds on 10 Years of Success with an Estimated 30 Million Lives Saved Against One of the World’s Leading Causes of Preventable Death
Supported 59 Countries that Successfully Passed Tobacco Control Laws, Targeting Those with the Largest Numbers of Smokers Including China, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh
Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced a new commitment of $360 million to global anti-tobacco efforts. The grant supports evidence-based policies to curb tobacco use and works to increase awareness of the dangers of tobacco in low and middle-income countries. The new round of funding raises Bloomberg’s total giving on this public health initiative to nearly $1 billion and builds on ten years of support for the implementation of tobacco control laws and policies around the world through the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. To date the initiative has successfully supported 59 countries in passing laws or policies, reaching nearly 3.5 billion people and saving an estimated 30 million lives.
The additional funds will enable tobacco control advocates and public health officials to expand and accelerate effective MPOWER policy strategies to Monitor tobacco use, Protect the public with smoke-free laws, Offer help to quit smoking, Warn about the dangers of tobacco use through pack labels and public awareness campaigns, Enforce advertising bans, and Raise taxes on tobacco. The funds will go towards holding the tobacco industry accountable and deepening efforts on raising the price of tobacco products.
Over the last ten years, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ investment in tobacco control has contributed to a change in the global trajectory of tobacco use. Global sales of tobacco plateaued in 2012 with about 200 billion fewer cigarettes sold in 2014 than in 2010. The program spans more than 110 countries targeting the world’s heaviest-smoking countries including China, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, 39 countries have passed comprehensive smoke-free laws, like Turkey, where a survey found that the number of smokers declined by 1.2 million from 2008 to 2012; 32 countries have passed laws requiring graphic warning labels on tobacco packages, like India, which implemented such warnings covering 85% of both sides of cigarette packages; and 22 nations have passed bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, like Brazil, which has a strong ban on tobacco advertising including restrictions on advertisements at retail locations. Major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have also passed legislation mandating smoke-free places.
“Reducing tobacco use is one of our greatest opportunities to save lives and prevent suffering, because we know that strong policies really do make a difference. Since we began working ten years ago to pass effective tobacco measures around the world, global sales of cigarettes have declined after a century of steadily increasing,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “The tide is turning on tobacco, but we still have a long way to go – especially in low- and middle-income countries that are home to 75% of the world’s smokers and where tobacco companies are working harder than ever to find new customers.”
Tobacco use is a significant contributor to life-threatening, noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and stroke. As the recently appointed World Health Organization Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and a strong advocate for tobacco control, Michael R. Bloomberg’s leadership aims to help governments address both tobacco control and prevent premature deaths related to tobacco use. NCDs account for 68% of global deaths outpacing deaths associated with other global killers.
“Investment in the tobacco industry is killing millions of people,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan. “Investing in tobacco control can help keep those people alive and healthy. I am delighted that Michael Bloomberg is bringing his business expertise to work with the WHO and public health community to beat the tobacco industry, one of the greatest health threats our society faces.”
Reaching Global Scale Through Funding and Partnerships with Government and Aligned Stakeholders
When The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use in 2008, the tobacco control movement was in vital need of funding, planning, more technical capacity, and a coordinated strategy among stakeholders.
The program has since changed the landscape of global tobacco control in just 10 years. The Initiative supports the implementation of proven, evidence-based measures to reduce tobacco use. It has scaled the work of leading non-governmental and governmental organizations, attracted major new philanthropic investments, aligned stakeholders around interventions that work, and generated broad awareness and media attention to the cause.
“Mike Bloomberg has spent over a decade leading the fight against the harms of tobacco throughout the world,” said philanthropist and anti-tobacco partner Bill Gates. “Tobacco-caused diseases are one of the greatest health challenges facing low and middle income countries. The good news is Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners know how to implement proven solutions. Thanks to Mike Bloomberg, millions of lives will be saved.”
By The Numbers: Accelerating Proven Strategies to Combat Tobacco Use
In 2003 as mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg signed the landmark New York City Smoke-Free Air Act banning smoking in bars and restaurants. By 2013, the Bloomberg Administration increased the tax on cigarettes, launched anti-smoking advertising campaigns, and distributed free nicotine patches. As a result of the Bloomberg Administration’s comprehensive approach, the results have been dramatic. Overall smoking declined 28% from 21.5% in 2002 to 13.9% in 2014. There were more than 400,000 fewer smokers in 2014 than in 2002. And teen smoking fell by more than 50% from 2001 to 2013. Many countries have since implemented similar measures to restrict smoking in public places.
The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use collaborates with several key international partners and, together, the program works to increase awareness of the dangers of tobacco in low- to middle-income countries using the following strategies: creating smoke-free public places, banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship, increasing tax on tobacco products, requiring graphic pack warnings and supporting hard-hitting mass media campaigns. Working with the World Health Organization, the foundation supported the creation of a package of MPOWER policies and initiatives.
When tobacco companies sought to use international trade agreements to threaten Uruguay, trying to prevent it from passing strong tobacco-control laws, Uruguay successfully defended its new laws from this legal challenge thanks in part to support from Bloomberg.
“If we do not take effective measures at the global level, estimated projections show that for the year 2030 more than 8 million people in the world will die annually as a result of tobacco. It’s time for us to propel the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. We cannot wait any longer to react. Our people’s lives are at stake,” said President Tabare Vázquez. “With Michael Bloomberg as an ally, Uruguay was able to win one of the most important lawsuits in history against the tobacco industry. However, we must take effective measures to reduce the 8 million annual deaths that are projected for 2030,” President Tabare Vázquez continued. “Michael Bloomberg’s tobacco control reinvestment announcement comes at a critical time in order to help countries implement the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. For this reason, I hope to motivate all those receiving this message to join us on this mission.”
Additionally, Bloomberg Philanthropies and partners provide evidence and assistance to health and finance ministers to implement tobacco taxes, which have proven to be a strong tool to curb tobacco use. The foundation has also provided rapid response grants to fund pressing tobacco control opportunities or risks. And in 2015 Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the $4 million Anti-Tobacco Trade Litigation Fund to combat tobacco’s efforts.
Partners in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use include: The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation (CDCF), International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Vital Strategies.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $510 million. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter @BloombergDotOrg.
Contact: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Rebecca Carriero, (212) 205-0182, firstname.lastname@example.org