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NEW YORK — Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped down from public office in New York at the end of 2013; however, he has not stepped away from his public battle with tobacco use.
Bloomberg, CEO of Bloomberg LP and known for his philanthropy, is committing $360 million to be spent for global anti-tobacco efforts, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The new round of funding raises Bloomberg's total giving on this public health initiative to nearly $1 billion and builds on 10 years of support for the implementation of tobacco control laws and policies around the world through the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.
The money will support efforts by tobacco control advocates and public health officials to enact smoke-free laws, raise taxes, enforce advertising bans, offer help to quit smoking and warn about the dangers of tobacco use through pack labels and public awareness campaigns, the organization explained.
"Reducing tobacco use is one of our greatest opportunities to save lives and prevent suffering, because we know that strong policies really do make a difference. Since we began working 10 years ago to pass effective tobacco measures around the world, global sales of cigarettes have declined after a century of steadily increasing," Bloomberg said.
"The tide is turning on tobacco, but we still have a long way to go — especially in low- and middle-income countries that are home to 75 percent of the world's smokers and where tobacco companies are working harder than ever to find new customers," he added.
As mayor of New York, Bloomberg was known for enacting, or trying to enact, several measures in an effort to protect public health. Chiefly among them were changes to tobacco policy, including the 2003 New York City Smoke-Free Air Act banning smoking in bars and restaurants.
By 2013, his administration increased the tax on cigarettes, launched anti-smoking advertising campaigns and distributed free nicotine patches. The city also became the first major municipality to raise the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 under his watch.
As a result of the Bloomberg administration's comprehensive approach, overall smoking declined 28 percent from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 13.9 percent in 2014. There were more than 400,000 fewer smokers in 2014 than in 2002. And teen smoking fell by more than 50 percent from 2001 to 2013, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.