Bloomberg Philanthropies announced an additional commitment of $420 million over four years to the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. This fourth investment brings Bloomberg’s total commitment to tobacco control to more than $1.58 billion since 2005.
The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use is helping cities and countries implement measures that are proven to reduce use and protect people from harm, including smoke-free public places, banning tobacco advertising, increasing tax on tobacco products, requiring graphic warnings on cigarette packaging, and mass-media public awareness campaigns.
Currently, the initiative spans more than 110 low- and middle-income countries — including China and India, which together account for nearly 40% of the world’s smokers. Since the Initiative was launched, global smoking rates have fallen from 22.7% to 17.5%. Global cigarette sales have also plummeted, with 750 billion fewer cigarettes sold in 2021 compared to 2012.
From the new $420 million in funding, $280 million will be aimed at reducing tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and $140 million will target reducing e-cigarette use among teenagers in the United States. This additional funding reflects Bloomberg Philanthropies’ continued commitment to save 100 million lives by 2050.
“Over the past two decades, we’ve made major progress in reducing tobacco use and the death and disease connected to it, but it continues to take a devastating toll, and it remains the leading cause of preventable death,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “This latest investment will help to spread strategies that have proven so effective at saving lives — including smoke-free laws and advertising restrictions — to more nations and communities around the world.”
The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use builds on Bloomberg’s success in reducing smoking rates as Mayor of New York City from 21.5% to 13.9%, and increasing life expectancy by three years. The Initiative works with national and local governments to implement the World Health Organization’s package of policies and initiatives called MPOWER.
This is focused on monitoring, protecting people against secondhand smoke, offering help to quit smoking, warning about the dangers of tobacco through pack labels and public awareness, enforcing advertising bans, and raising taxes on tobacco.
The Initiative utilizes a multi-pronged approach to effectively advance policies, funding a range of strategies to promote MPOWER policies, including extensive legal support, research to provide evidence to raise tobacco taxes, hard-hitting media campaigns, training for key stakeholders, monitoring tobacco industry behavior and measuring tobacco use. This approach has supported critical public health progress such as: countries across South America adopting national indoor smoke-free laws, Mexico adopting a national indoor smoke-free law and banning tobacco advertising in 2021, and significant tax increases on tobacco in the Philippines and Indonesia.
While strides are being made globally, the rise in flavored tobacco and e-cigarette usage among youth in the U.S. is another example of the tobacco industry working to recruit users. In 2018, the U.S. FDA declared that youth e-cigarette use had reached “epidemic proportions,” and in 2019 Bloomberg Philanthropies began to support efforts targeting e-cigarette usage amongst teens in at least 20 states and cities in the U.S. Since then, the Initiative has successfully supported the passage of 55 state and local flavor bans. Additionally, e-cigarette usage amongst high school students in the U.S. has declined from 27.5% in 2019 to 14.1% in 2022.
“We will continue to focus on reducing e-cigarette usage among youth in the United States,” said Dr. Kelly Henning, who leads Public Health programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “I’m proud to say we are seeing progress, most recently, Californians passed Prop 31 in November that banned most flavored tobacco products, a major victory to ensure the health and safety of our future generations. We look forward to supporting partners in the next four years to implement policies that help protect millions of people.”
There is still a significant amount of work to be done, with one in 10 deaths around the world caused by tobacco usage. Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to working with a global network of partners to prevent tobacco-related illnesses and save lives.
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health.
Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.7 billion.