Michael Bloomberg has done a lot as the mayor of New York to curb smoking in the Big Apple. And now he is turning his efforts on smoking to other locales, with an announcement that he will give roughly a quarter of a billion dollars to poor and developing countries to fund anti-smoking campaigns.
Last year, Bloomberg introduced a ban on smoking in public spaces in New York City. Critics of the policy claimed that it would destroy tourism as well as any chance he might have for reelection. But he had the last laugh in the fall when he announced that smoking numbers had reached an all-time low in the city.
Now Bloomberg is turning his attention to anti-smoking efforts in poorer parts of the world where the tobacco industry is increasingly looking for expansion. On his way to attend the World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Singapore, Bloomberg announced that he would donate $220 million to curb the growth of the tobacco industry in low- and middle-income countries.
According to the World Lung Foundation's Tobacco Atlas, about 80 percent of deaths from smoking-related diseases last year were in low- and middle-income countries. Smoking is the biggest killer in China, resulting in 1.2 million deaths each year. It is also the leading cause of male deaths in Turkey (38 percent) and Kazakhstan (35 percent) and the leading cause of female deaths in the Maldives (25 percent) and the U.S. (23 percent).
Bloomberg's money will go primarily to five countries — Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Russia — where smoking is on the rise, and to 15 others countries which altogether make up two-thirds of the world's smokers.