Bloomberg Expands Effort to Curb Tobacco Use World-wide
By Betsy McKay
Former New York City mayor and billionaire philanthropist
Michael Bloomberg has spent hundreds of millions of dollars of his
fortune over the past decade fighting tobacco use in the developing
world. Now, with cigarette use declining globally, he is deepening
Mr. Bloomberg is committing $360 million to be used between 2017
and 2022 to help raise tobacco taxes, implement smoke-free laws and
pursue other strategies to curb tobacco use in low- and
middle-income countries, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the
philanthropic arm of his foundation.
Curbing tobacco use is a signature cause for Mr. Bloomberg,
whose administration famously instituted smoking bans, graphic ad
campaigns, sharp tax increases and other measures to get people in
New York City to kick the habit -- with effect, as smoking rates
fell significantly during his tenure.
He is going after smoking globally too. The new money brings to
at least $955 million the amount he has committed since 2007 to
tobacco-control efforts in low- and middle-income countries, where
nearly 80% of the world's more than 1 billion smokers reside.
"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," Mr. Bloomberg said.
Funds from Bloomberg Philanthropies made to governmental and
nongovernmental organizations, have to date contributed to the
passage or support of tobacco-control laws and policies in 59
countries, offering protection to nearly 3.5 billion people and
saving an estimated 30 million lives, said Kelly Henning, who heads
Bloomberg Philanthropies' public-health programs. Those policies
include smoke-free laws in 39 countries, requirements in 32
countries that cigarette packages carry large graphic warning
labels and bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship in 22
countries, Bloomberg Philanthropies said.
The new funds will be focused in particular on efforts to raise
tobacco taxes, she said.
Tobacco-control experts say that Bloomberg Philanthropies' funds
have accelerated a push to curb smoking that has been in gear since
the implementation of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco
Control, an international treaty signed by 180 countries that
entered into force in 2005.
Consumption of cigarettes has declined globally since 2012,
according to data service Euromonitor International, though 5.6
trillion cigarettes were still sold in 2015, and makers of
cigarettes are investing in alternative products as restrictions on
smoking grow in many countries. Philip Morris International Inc.'s
chief executive said last week that the tobacco company could move
away from selling cigarettes altogether.
PMI didn't respond to a request for comment on Bloomberg
Philanthropies' tobacco control efforts.
"The zeitgeist has changed around smoking globally," said
Michael Eriksen, dean of Georgia State University's School of
Public Health and head of a large research effort there on tobacco
use and products. "Countries are competing now over who has most of
their cigarette packs covered by a warning label."
Write to Betsy McKay at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 05, 2016 00:14 ET (05:14 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.