The Global Killer
There are estimated 1.3billion smokers worldwide: 300million of them are in China; 120million are in India, and 50 million are in Russia. (The source for statistics quoted is the PLoS Medicine).
Now billionaires, Bill Gates (co-founder of Mircosoft) and Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York) are joining forces to lobby governments in Asia, Africa and South America to do do 3 things – increase taxes on cigarettes; implement smoking bans and to raise awareness of health risks. Is this not admirable, now big bucks are pitch against big bucks. It is reported each year, nearly 5million people worldwide die from tobacco-related illness. This is more than are killed by any other single agent. It is felt that unless that urgent action is taken, as many as 1billion people could die in this 21st century as a result of smoking (more than two thirds of these deaths will occur in the developing world).
The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use has to date committed more than $375million towards its projects and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now to contribute an additional $125million over the next 5 years. Emphasis will be on funding programmes in China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh as these countries together account for approximately half of the world’s smokers.
Hope with this support from both these foundations serious inroads can be made in the fight against the harms afflicting the smokers. The admirable gesture by these two billionaires deserves our applause. Taking the cue from these two philanthropists maybe more bilionaires will now put more money into such socially beneficial programmes to improve the health of their fellow-humans and to improve the environment around the world. My salutations to Mayor Bloomberg and Mr. Gates, it is not an easy thing for one to part with one’s money, even if one has tons and tons of it.