Bloomberg, Gates Team Up To Spend $500M To Combat Tobacco Use
In a joint press conference on Wednesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft founder and former Chair Bill Gates announced plans to donate $500 million to finance anti-smoking programs in developing nations, the Wall Street Journal reports (Guth, Wall Street Journal, 7/23).
The Bloomberg Family Foundation will donate $250 million to the campaign over four years, in addition to a $125 million donation announced in 2006.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $125 million over five years (Kugler, AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/23).
The $500 million will finance a campaign, called MPower, that Bloomberg and World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan announced in February.
The campaign will coordinate efforts by the:
- Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use;
- The World Lung Foundation;
- The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health;
- The CDC Foundation; and
- The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
The campaign will encourage governments to increase taxes on tobacco products, prohibit smoking in public places, ban advertisements for tobacco products that target children and distribution of samples of cigarettes at no cost, and begin anti-smoking and smoking cessation programs.
In addition, the campaign will fund travel to the U.S. for workshops on lobbying, public service advertising, detection of cigarette smugglers and administration of telephone help lines for smokers who seek to quit. Public health officials, consumer advocates, journalists, tax officers and others from developing nations will be eligible to participate in the workshops (McNeil, New York Times, 7/24).
Bloomberg said, "I believe a world in which everyone is aware of the destructiveness of tobacco and empowered to avoid it is within reach," adding, "We just have to imagine it and then demand it" (Brown, Washington Post, 7/24).
In addition, he said, "All the money in the world will never eradicate tobacco," but "this partnership underscores how much the tide is turning against the deadly epidemic" (New York Times, 7/24).
Gates said, "The epidemic in Africa is not well advanced, and that means that we can catch it at an early stage" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 7/23).
A spokesperson for Philip Morris said that the company supports efforts to discourage children from smoking but opposes increased taxes on tobacco products, as higher taxes could encourage smuggling and counterfeiting of cigarettes (McNeil, New York Times, 7/24).
On Thursday, NPR's "Morning Edition" reported on the announcement (Wilson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.