Published On: Tue, Dec 6th, 2016

Michael Bloomberg Pledges $360 Million to Fight Tobacco

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, has declared was on tobacco use around the world. The billionaire philanthropist has donated $360 million to fight tobacco use around the world.

The funds will be distributed from 2017 through 2022 and will be used for a campaign to promote higher tobacco taxes and laws banning smoking in public in poorer nations. As mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg pushed through significant increases in that city’s tobacco taxes.

While Western nations and their cities have engaged in aggresive anti-smoking campaigns over the last forty years, banning public smoking, increasing taxes and so forth, the developing world has lagged far behind in the global efforts to curb smoking.

“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, ” Bloomberg said. “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% of the world’s smokers and where tobacco companies are working harder than ever to find new customers.”

He has now donated almost $1 billion to his anti-tobacco crusade.

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The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use boasts that to date it has successfully supported 59 countries in passing laws or policies, reaching nearly 3.5 billion people and saving an estimated 30 million lives.

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Bloomberg Philanthropies sates that it has aided 39 countries in passing smoke-free laws. These nations include Turkey, where a survey found that the number of smokers declined by 1.2 million from 2008 to 2012. The foundation also reports that 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. Also, 22 nations have passed bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, like Brazil. Major cities like Beijing and Shanghai have also passed legislation mandating smoke-free places.

In 2003, as mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg signed the 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. Statistics show that these moves led to an overall smoking decline in the city of 28%, from 21.5% in 2002 to 13.9% in 2014. There were more than 400, 000 fewer smokers in 2014 than in 2002. Teen smoking fell by more than 50% from 2001 to 2013.

“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.”

In other Michael Bloomberg news, the very vocal opponent of Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy spoke with the President Elect on the phone recently. Bloomberg reportedly made the call to Trump, but no details of the conversation were revealed to the public.

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