Gates and Bloomberg join forces to stop smoking
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will donate $375m (£187.5m) to a global effort to stop smoking.
Bloomberg founded the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use in 2005 and donated $125m (£62.5m) to projects aimed at reducing passive smoking and helping smokers to quit, particularly in low and middle-income countries. He recently pledged to increase this funding to $250m (£125m) over five years.
Meanwhile, the Gates Foundation has announced a $125m (£62.5m), five-year investment, including a $24m (£12m) donation to accelerate the implementation of Bloomerg's MPOWER initiative, which is being delivered by the World Health Organisation (WHO). MPOWER aims to:
- Monitor tobacco use and the policies to prevent it
- Protect people from tobacco smoke
- Offer people help to quit tobacco use
- Warn about the dangers of tobacco
- Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
- Raise taxes on tobacco
The Gates Foundation will also support complementary efforts in other countries such as China and India, and attempt to prevent a ‘tobacco epidemic’ in Africa. Until now the foundation has concentrated, in the developing world, on combating infectious diseases such as HIV/Aids. Gates said, "Tobacco-caused diseases have emerged as one of the greatest health challenges facing developing countries.”
The Bloomberg initiative will have a particular emphasis on funding programmes in China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh which together, it says, account for about half of the world’s smokers. Its efforts will include improving tobacco control programmes to help smokers stop and prevent children from starting; supporting public policy development; and developing a rigorous system to monitor the status of global tobacco use.
Bloomberg said, "Bill and I want to highlight the enormity of this problem and catalyze a global movement of governments and civil society to stop the tobacco epidemic.”