Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have announced joint efforts to combat the global tobacco epidemic with a combined investment of $500-million to help governments in developing countries implement proven policies and increase funding for tobacco control.
Bloomberg's Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, which was established in 2005 and includes a $125-million commitment, will be extended with a new $250-million, four-year commitment, bringing Bloomberg's total commitment to more than $375-million.
Meanwhile, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest $125-million over five years to fight the tobacco epidemic, including a $24-million grant to the Bloomberg Initiative.
In addition to the grant toBloomberg, the Gates Foundation will support complementary efforts to reduce high rates of tobacco use in countries such as China and India, as well as to help prevent the tobacco epidemic from taking root in Africa.
The Bloomberg Initiative supports projects that increase tobacco tax, change the image of tobacco, protect nonsmokers from exposure to other people's smoke and help people quit. The Initiative supports the public sector's efforts to educate and advocate for change, and a rigorous tobacco use and policy monitoring system.
"Tobacco-caused diseases have emerged as one of the greatest health challenges facing developing countries," says Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation.
"The good news is, we know what it takes to save millions of lives, and where efforts exist, they are working. We are pleased to join with Mayor Bloomberg, who has made the fight against tobacco a priority in New York City and around the world."
Bloomberg and Gates called on government and business leaders to make the fight against tobacco a higher priority by increasing resources for tobacco control and implementing proven policies to reduce tobacco use.
According to the World Health Organization, 3,9-billion people live in low- and middle-income countries that spend less than $20-million dollars per year combined on tobacco control. Today, these same countries collect more than $66-billion in tobacco taxes.
There are more than 1-billion smokers in the world today.