Bloomberg Philanthropies Recognizes Governments and NGOs For Outstanding Work in Ending Tobacco Use

Tracking tobacco control

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced the winners of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control which celebrate the significant strides made 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, which was covered by iWatch Africa’s Gideon Sarpong.

“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 Noncommunicable 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.”

Each year, nearly 7 million people are killed by tobacco, 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. One award was given in each of the MPOWER categories. MPOWER categories 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.
  • 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.

Watch the Ministry of Health’s video here

  • 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.

Watch UNCHO’s video here

  • 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.

Watch Ministry of Health, Ministry of Treasury, and FIC video here

“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 14th World Health Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai and most recently in 2015 when the 16th Conference was held in Abu Dhabi.

The award was designed by Francis Kéré, a German-trained architect from Burkina Faso. Kéré represents socially responsible architecture and is known for his focus on participation, innovative use of material and sustainability. In 2005 he founded the office Kéré Architecture in Berlin, which has been recognized nationally and internationally with awards and major commissions including the Serpentine Galleries Pavilion in London. His sculpture for the 2018 Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control combines wood and brass, a sustainable and a recyclable material. The organic shape of the trophy reinterprets traditional African carving techniques and is complemented by a brass ring that surrounds the log like a medal honoring the recipients’ engagement.

About the World Conference on Tobacco or Health

The 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from 7-9 March 2018. It will unite researchers, academics, non-governmental organisations, civil society, scientists, healthcare professionals and public officials working on all aspects of tobacco control from more than 100 countries.

Convened by the Advisory Board for WCTOH, the Cape Town Consortium and the Conference Secretariat, The Union, the WCTOH is a call for a collective resolution to fight tobacco by working together and integrating tobacco control into our health and development goals. Held once every three years, the WCTOH is the premier, international conference on tobacco control.

The conference will meet under the theme of Uniting the World for a Tobacco-Free Generation, recognising that tobacco control is a global issue, crossing all geographic boundaries. This has been realised through the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which stands as the backdrop for the conference and for our global response as the only internationally, legally-binding health treaty of the 21st century. Only by coming together will we truly be able to be tobacco-free.

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Gideon Sarpong

2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation Fellow: Gideon Sarpong (G. K. Sarpong) is a media practitioner with over six years of experience in content development and management, data and investigative journalism, policy analysis, production and e-commerce strategizing. Gideon is currently Director of Policy and News Content at iWatch Africa. He is also the Brands and Communication Manager for Football 360, Kwese SportsXtra, on KFS and Celebrity Fanzone, The Tonight Show, and After Hours. Gideon is an e-commerce consultant for Department of Geography & Regional Planning and Department of Religion & Human Values at the University of Cape Coast. He is a columnist for several local and international news portals. Gideon holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Policy Journalism and is committed to promoting transparency and accountability using investigative & data journalism. Gideon is an author with over eight publications; a fellow of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), Thomson Reuters Foundation (Wealth of Nations Program) and Bloomberg Data for Health Program.

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