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Press Room

$500 Million to Reduce Tobacco Related Deaths

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York) – The $500 million commitment announced today by Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates to prevent tobacco related deaths, is an historic milestone in addressing the world's most preventable public health crisis, said the World Lung Foundation, an organization dedicated to the improvement of lung health around the world.

This funding will build and expand on the Bloomberg Initiative's current global program to control tobacco use in developing countries, which suffer disproportionately from tobacco-related illnesses. It will further drive the policy package recommended in the World Health Organization's MPOWER Report, which predicted that tobacco could kill one billion people this century. The WHO report and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control both serve as roadmaps to success, and contain comprehensive strategies for governments, civil societies, and NGOs to help reduce the suffering and death caused by tobacco use at home and worldwide. The six critical interventions outlined in the MPOWER Report are:

  • Monitoring the epidemic and prevention policies
  • Protecting people from secondhand smoke
  • Offering help to quit tobacco use
  • Warning about the dangers of tobacco
  • Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and promotion
  • Raising taxes and prices.

“The Bloomberg Initiative ignited the largest coordinated global push against the tobacco epidemic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made immeasurable contributions to many global public health issues.” said Peter Baldini, Executive Director of World Lung Foundation. “The two together will enable broader and deeper partnerships between governments, NGOs, and civil societies to build world class tobacco controls systems in the places that need them the most. World Lung Foundation is proud to support the work that was today made possible by these two influential philanthropies.”

WLF, which develops projects to support organizations and programs that fight lung disease and tobacco use, is an active partner in the Bloomberg Initiative's tobacco control efforts around the world, and fully supported the launch of the MPOWER Report.

Recently, WLF has supported mass media campaigns to support smoke-free directives in Beijing, Turkey, and Mexico City, and has supported mass media campaigns in China, Mexico, Turkey, and India. Similar public education campaigns and workshops are in development in Egypt, Indonesia, and the Philippines. WLF has also extended staff presence in China, India, Russia, and Mexico, and has offered technical assistance to governments in more than half of the countries identified by the Bloomberg Initiative as priorities for intervention. It also recently launched a viral internet video campaign calling on NGO's to work toward the elimination of tobacco advertising that specifically targets children.

WLF was established in response to the global epidemic of lung disease, which kills 10 million people each year. Half of these deaths are caused by tobacco-related illnesses. More than 80% of annual tobacco-related deaths occur in low to middle-income countries, where the epidemic is now thriving. Research, education, and collaboration – all of which are supported by the WLF – can reduce this overwhelming health burden.

WLF's partners include the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. WLF works in four primary areas: tobacco control, tuberculosis, child lung health, and asthma.