If left unchecked, tobacco use will kill one billion people this century, with more than 80% of those deaths occurring in the world’s developing nations. The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use is working to promote proven tobacco control policies around the world to help combat this global epidemic.
In 2007, Bloomberg Philanthropies supported the World Health Organization to package and promote six proven policies to reduce tobacco use worldwide. These strategies – including protecting people from tobacco smoke, offering help to quit, raising awareness about the dangers of tobacco through warning labels and public education campaigns, enforcing tobacco advertising bans, and raising the price of tobacco products – are proven to reduce smoking rates. Through strategic partnerships and a $375 million investment, Bloomberg Philanthropies is assisting governments and supporting non-governmental organizations to assure the implementation of these interventions in low- and middle-income countries that are home to the majority of the world’s smokers.
These successful outcomes have been reached with the Initiative’s global partners: the World Health Organization, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the CDC Foundation, the World Lung Foundation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also a critical partner in the Bloomberg Initiative.
Since the Initiative began in 2007, 21 countries have passed 100% smoke-free laws, the percentage of people protected from second-hand smoke has increased 400%, and almost four billion people worldwide are now protected by at least one of the six proven tobacco control policies. The battle against tobacco is far from over, but the Initiative and its partners are prepared to continue work that will help save lives around the world.
The government of Uruguay and President José Mujica deserve great credit for standing strong against the tobacco industry and defending their sovereign right and obligation to protect their citizens against the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the world – tobacco use.
CVS's decision to accelerate the end of tobacco sales at its stores and offer a smoking cessation program to customers is an important step forward for public health - and one that other pharmacies should follow.