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 tobaccocontrolgrants.org.
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.