The World Health Organiation (WHO) Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday announced the winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control which celebrates the significant strides by organizations implementing anti-tobacco policies in low and middle-income countries. He made the announcement at the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH).
“Congratulations to all of the winners for their outstanding work, which is saving lives every day,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO’s Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases.
“Over the last decade the global effort to fight tobacco use has come farther than almost anyone imagined possible – but we will have a long way to go, and these honorees are helping to lead the way forward,” he stated
About seven million people are killed by tobacco every year, more than are killed by alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicide deaths combined.
Since 2003, Michael R. Bloomberg has led the fight for tobacco control across the globe starting when he championed the Smoke Free Air Act banning smoking in bars and restaurants in New York City, inspiring many other cities to adopt similar measures. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use works with organizations across the globe to implement policies in low and middle-income countries where 80% of tobacco-related deaths occur.
The six chosen honorees highlight the tangible progress to control tobacco and represent the effectiveness of the MPOWER policies – a group of effective demand-reduction tobacco control policies.
An award was given in each of the MPOWER categories which include Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; Protecting people from tobacco smoke with smoke-free air legislation; Offering help to quit tobacco use; Warning about the dangers of tobacco with pack labels and mass media; Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and Raising taxes on tobacco.
The 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies Award winners are:
· Monitoring: Ministry of Health Vietnam has shown excellent leadership in tobacco surveillance and monitoring by conducting two rounds of adult tobacco surveys (GATS) and three rounds of youth tobacco surveys (GYTS). In addition, the country has monitored tobacco use in special populations by integrating tobacco questions in surveys focused on special populations (for example, a labor force survey).
Protecting: Fondo Solidario para la Salud (FOSALUD) de El Salvador As a result of FOSALUD’s leadership, El Salvador passed comprehensive smoke-free legislation in 2015. FOSALUD conducted evidence gathering to support advocacy for passage of the law and activated the international community when tobacco industry interference became evident.
Watch FOSALUD de El Salvador’s video here
· Offering help to quit: Fundación Interamericana del Corazón México FIC Mexico worked closely with the Mexican government to develop a strategy to broaden the availability of evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment. They worked with 10 government institutions, along with clinical experts, to develop and implement national guidelines. Health care professionals received support by extending staffing capacity and making treatment more readily available to Mexican citizens.
· Warning: Ministry of Health Senegal The National Assembly of Senegal adopted one of the strongest tobacco control laws in Africa which includes smoke-free provisions, advertising bans, and prohibits industry interference, but the most prominent measure remains the pack warnings. The law requires that tobacco product packages must display a combination of text and picture health warnings on at least 70 percent of each principal display area. Misleading packaging and labelling, including terms such as “light” and “low tar” are prohibited.
· Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organization Uganda enacted a very strong and comprehensive tobacco control bill in 2015. While the law is very comprehensive, the tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS) measures are particularly strong and represent best practices in that they completely ban all forms, methods, and means of domestic and cross-border TAPS. The Ugandan civil society organizations, through their well-coordinated advocacy and communications efforts, played a crucial role getting the bill enacted into law.
· Raising tobacco taxes: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Treasury Argentina, and FIC The The Argentinian Government, under the leadership of the Ministry of Treasury and the Ministry of Health, strongly supported by the Inter-American Heart Foundation (FIC), approved a tax of 75% on national and imported cigarettes in May 2016. The three entities worked closely together to run a model campaign using a variety of strategies and sought to emphasize the link between tobacco taxes as both an economic measure as well as a public health policy to reduce tobacco consumption.
“It is because of organizations like this year’s MPOWER winners who are helping us fight and win the battle against big tobacco,” said Dr. Kelly Henning, Director of Public Health Programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Their citizens and constituents will be reaping the reward of their efforts for generations to come, and we hope that by showcasing these awardees’ successes others may be inspired to follow suit and take action in their own countries.”
The Bloomberg Awards for Global Tobacco Control were first hosted in 2009 at the 14thWorld Health Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai and most recently in 2015 when the 16th Conference was held in Abu Dhabi.