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Mike Bloomberg Launches STOP, a New Tobacco Industry Watchdog at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health

A competitive application process is open to determine the lead organization(s) for Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP). The global tobacco industry watchdog will aggressively monitor deceptive tobacco industry practices to undermine public health.

With an initial $20 million investment, STOP will support the creation of a robust global monitoring system that complements existing efforts in identifying industry deception. The tobacco industry watchdog will deliver regular reports detailing industry tactics and strategies both at global and country-level and will provide tools and training materials for countries to combat industry influence. STOP will also liaise with existing Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use partners to supplement country-level grants that assist nonprofits and governments in pushing back strongly against industry’s interference. Findings will be publicly available and fully aligned with Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that clearly outlines the prohibition of tobacco industry involvement in government policy making.

For decades, tobacco giants have tried to deceive the public with duplicitous tactics. Philip Morris International recently provided the initial $80 million of funding to “Foundation for a Smoke-Free World,” a move seen by many public health experts as a thinly veiled effort to legitimize the tobacco industry and allow them access to the policy-making table. In addition to aggressively marketing its combustible cigarettes to children and teenagers in low- and middle-income countries, the industry is pushing alternative products, such as heat-not-burn and e-cigarettes, as cessation devices while the evidence remains inconclusive. Tobacco industry-funded research has repeatedly been a smokescreen for behavior that has led to worse outcomes for smokers. For example, supposedly safer low-tar and filtered cigarettes led to greater numbers of smokers, deeper inhalation patterns, and or higher daily consumption – all worsening public health worldwide.

STOP will divide resources between robust monitoring and reporting of industry behavior, and combating the false narratives of Big Tobacco on the ground.

Nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions are invited to submit their best and boldest ideas for STOP. Groups may apply jointly (up to three organizations per application), but at least one organization must be from a low- or middle-income country. A final decision will be announced by July 2018.

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