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July 23, 2008

Bloomberg and Gates Pledge $500 Million for Tobacco Control

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced today that they are pledging a combined $500 million toward global antismoking efforts.

The mayor's foundation will invest $250 million over four years, in addition to his $125 million investment that established the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use in 2005. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $125 million investment over five years includes funding to a number of worldwide efforts to reduce tobacco use, as well a $24 million grant to the Initiative.

The Bloomberg Initiative funds five partner organizations dedicated to curbing the worldwide tobacco epidemic, one of which is the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The School’s Institute for Global Tobacco Control is one of the centers that coordinates the antismoking efforts of the Initiative, collaborating with six other entities at the School: the Center for Communication Programs and the departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Health, Behavior and Society and International Health.

“I applaud the vision of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates in supporting this initiative against tobacco, which is the leading cause of preventable death in the world,” said Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of the Bloomberg School. “The Bloomberg Initiative has been incredibly innovative, and these new resources will support even more programs that will prevent millions of deaths in the coming years.”

Dean Klag attended the announcement in New York City, as did members of the School’s Institute for Global Tobacco Control. More than 70 professionals currently enrolled in the Institute’s Global Tobacco Control Leadership Program also attended the event (visit the Leadership Program blog for further information). The two-week research and leadership program brings students from around the world to the Bloomberg School to be instructed by internationally renowned experts in tobacco control.

The Bloomberg-Gates campaign will concentrate on five nations with the highest smoking rates—China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh—by implementing the UN’s proven MPOWER package, which includes interventions such as monitoring use, warning about the dangers of tobacco use, enforcing bans and so on.

—Christine Grillo and Brian W. Simpson