Thursday, July 24, 2008


Some wonderful antismoking news!

It seems that Bill Gates is adding $125 million to $350 million from Michael Bloomberg, the $500 million to go to worldwide antismoking campaigns over the next four or five years:

The $500 million would be spent on a multipronged campaign — nicknamed Mpower — that Mr. Bloomberg and Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the health organization, outlined in February. It coordinates efforts by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the health organization, the World Lung Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The campaign will urge governments to sharply raise tobacco taxes, outlaw smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to children and free giveaways of cigarettes, start antismoking advertising campaigns and offer their citizens nicotine patches or other help quitting. Third world health officials, consumer groups, journalists, tax officers and others will be brought to the United States for workshops on topics like lobbying, public service advertising, catching cigarette smugglers and running telephone hot lines for smokers wanting to quit. A list of grants is at

The campaign will concentrate on five countries where most of the world’s smokers live: China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh.

I barely need to say it: this is fantastic news. The tobacco companies, faced with strong antismoking campaigns stateside, along with a number of lawsuits, settlements, and regulations, have long been targeting folks in other countries with their... um... product. Not that there hasn’t been a propensity for smoking in some of those places anyway, of course, but targeted marketing has made it worse, especially among women.

This will go a good way toward counteracting that. And it will include funding for helping people quit. That, coupled with plenty of pressure for cultural change — making it less normal, natural, and desirable to smoke — should really make a difference.

Thank you, Messrs Bloomberg and Gates, for putting your money into such an important effort.


W.M. Irwin said...

Making it less normal--that's exactly what we need. Which is the opposite of when we were just little kids, with even the Flintstones puffing on Winstons! I used to know just about every cigarette jingle on TV by brand name, and we played a game we called "cigarette tag". I would often, as a little kid, walk down to the local convenience store at my mother's request to buy her some cigarettes. No questions were ever asked. Of course, anyone who wanted to could simply buy cigarettes from one of the vending machines that were everywhere. Thankfully, sanity began to take hold when televised cigarette advertising was banned, starting in 1971. But even with all of the warnings and publicity campaigns going on against smoking, as well as restrictions on places to smoke and heightened vigilance against selling to minors, it's astounding to still see young people allowing themselves to get sucked into this deadly addiction. We just need to keep pressing on until people won't light up for fear of becoming social outcasts. Apparently, the specter of chronic debilitating disease and even death doesn't seem to impact a lot of folks. Yes, smoking cigarettes needs to become universally seen as being very ABnormal.

Katie said...

Planting tobacco should be illegal.

Barry Leiba said...

I find it insanely hypocritical that tobacco and alcohol are legal, and marijuana is illegal.

On the other hand, our laws aren't known for their consistency.

Lisa Simeone said...

Well, I don't think making the planting of tobacco illegal makes any more sense than making the planting of marijuana illegal. (And alcohol? Come on. Wine is food. You have to be careful with it, that's all, just like you should be careful with food. Alcohol isn't any more evil than food; consume too much of it, and you get into trouble.)

As a lifelong LOATHER of cigarette smoke -- don't get me started -- I still think that you should be able to put into your body whatever shit you want to, including tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, you name it. You want it? It's your body. Do it. Just don't force me to do it with you.

So while I applaud Gates, et. al., god knows, I still think this stuff should be legal, just discouraged. No one would have believed, 40, 30, 20, hell, even 10 years ago, that smoking would be as socially ostracized as it is now. Hell, I never believed the French would ever come along! But it is, and they are.

The wheels of time move slowly, alas; I recognize that. Far too slowly for people like me, and, it seems, many who read this blog. But please, let's not add yet more insanity to the "war on drugs" by making illicit even more substances.

Barry Leiba said...

True, I would be Very Sad if wine were outlawed. I hadn't actually been agreeing that we shouldn't allow planting of tobacco — though I do think we should stop subsidizing it. I meant to point out the hypocrisy of outlawing pot, to say that we shouldn't outlaw pot. But, of course, that's completely in another direction from the topic of this post, so I guess I was (and am) babbling.

Never mind....