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Bloomberg Philanthropies announces The Union as a leader in new US$ 20 million global tobacco industry watchdog

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Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced The Union as one of the organisations selected to lead a new US$ 20 million project to crack down on tobacco industry influence particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced The Union as one of the organisations selected to lead a new US$ 20 million project to crack down on tobacco industry influence particularly in low- and middle-income countries. 

Together with the University of Bath, UK, and the Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, Thailand, The Union will co-lead a new global tobacco industry watchdog called STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products). STOP will publish investigative reports revealing the tobacco industry’s lobbying tactics and marketing strategies, and build tools for countries to effectively counter tobacco industry schemes designed to get new users hooked on their deadly products.

“We are delighted to be using our significant global experience in tobacco control to drive this new watchdog’s life-saving work. Over the last decade we have supported governments and civil society in over 50 countries to develop policies that reduce tobacco use. Countering the tobacco industry underpins all our work,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union. “For the first time, STOP enables the international tobacco control community to build a united and proactive movement against Big Tobacco and its devastating impact. With our combined expertise the three STOP partners are empowered to track and share every tactic and every strategy of the tobacco industry. Armed with this information we will mobilise tobacco control experts on the ground, around the world to intervene.”

STOP was launched and open for bids at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in March 2018. Applications could include up to three partner organisations as partners, with at least one based in a low- or middle-income country. The winning bid was based on the partners’ decades of experience thwarting the international tobacco industry’s most duplicitous tactics.

The Union has co-led the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use  grants programme since 2007 working with partners with low- and middle-income countries to support implementation of evidence-based policy change. Preventing tobacco industry interference underpins all this work – from creating smoke-free public places, to increasing tax on tobacco products. The Union’s international team will be working with sub-grantees Vital Strategies, which co-produces the Tobacco Atlas – an online resource that powerfully illustrates the impact of tobacco use through infographics of the latest statistics. The University of Bath specialises in investigative tobacco research and runs the internationally renowned research tool, which features over 750 profiles of individuals and entities linked to the industry. The Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control (GGTC) produces the Tobacco Industry Interference Index, a survey of how public health policies in nine Southeast Asian countries are protected from the industry’s subversive efforts.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ total STOP investment of $20 million over three years will be used to expand, the Tobacco Atlas and the Interference Index, adding innovative big data and crowdsourcing methods, along with detailed analyses of whistle-blower documents. STOP will also identify and target policy windows where timely interventions can produce significant impacts. A rapid response team will produce briefs, exposés of industry front groups, opinion pieces, and content for both earned and social media outreach that will aid local advocates globally. Grants will also be made to nongovernmental organizations in developing countries to combat industry interference.

STOP is the latest Bloomberg Philanthropies project. Bloomberg Philanthropies operates in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. Find out more here.