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STOP Tobacco

For decades, major tobacco companies have misled the public through deceptive marketing and outright falsehoods about the safety of their products. In addition to aggressively marketing conventional cigarettes to young people in low- and middle-income countries, the industry is promoting products such as heat-not-burn and e-cigarettes as cessation devices, despite inconclusive evidence about their effectiveness. Tobacco industry-funded research has also succeeded in masking behavior that has ultimately proved harmful to smokers. Philip Morris International also recently helped found “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World,” a move seen by many public health experts as a thinly veiled effort to legitimize their industry and influence policy.

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STOP: A Tobacco Industry Watchdog Created to Fight Back and Win

In 2018, aiming to counter these duplicitous tactics, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) initiative at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Cape Town, South Africa. The STOP partners have decades of experience standing up to the tobacco industry to protect public health:

  • The University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group investigates the industry and maintains tobaccotactics.org, which features more than 750 profiles of key individuals and entities.
  • The Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC), based at Thammasat University’s School of Global Studies in Thailand, features the South-East Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), which produces the Tobacco Industry Interference Index, a survey of how public health policies in nine Southeast Asian countries are protected from the industry’s dishonesty and has exerted pressure across the region against these strategies.
  • The Union, a global scientific organization based in France, and sub-grantee Vital Strategies. Vital Strategies, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, co-produces the Tobacco Atlas online resource of national and international statistics and public health interventions. The Union’s tobacco-control program, with hubs in New York, India, China, Singapore, and Mexico, has worked with government and civil organizations to reduce tobacco use in 50 countries since 2007.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ total STOP investment of $20 million over three years supports the creation of a robust global monitoring system to pinpoint manipulation and deceptive or illegal practices by the tobacco industry, delivering regular reports and providing resources and training to help countries work against it. STOP is also liaising with existing the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use partners to supplement national-level grants to nonprofits and governments.

Top photo: Mike Bloomberg launched Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) while in Cape Town, South Africa for the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in March 2018.