Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $360 million commitment in support of efforts to reduce tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.
To that end, the funds will enable tobacco control advocates and public health officials in low- and middle-income countries to expand and accelerate their "MPOWER" strategies to monitor use, protect the public with smoke-free laws, offer to help smokers quit, warn the public of health risks through labels and awareness campaigns, enforce advertising bans, and raise taxes on tobacco products. The funds also will be used to hold the tobacco industry accountable and strengthen efforts to raise the price of tobacco products.
The funding boosts the total awarded through the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use to nearly $1 billion over ten years. To date, the initiative — which spans more than a hundred countries, including nations such as China, India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh where smoking is prevalent — has supported the efforts of fifty-nine countries to pass anti-tobacco laws or policies, reaching nearly 3.5 billion people and saving an estimated thirty million lives. According to the foundation, global sales of tobacco peaked in 2012, with about two hundred billion fewer cigarettes sold in 2014 than in 2010.
"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," said Michael R. Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. "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. 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 percent of the world’s smokers and where tobacco companies are working harder than ever to find new customers."