Former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates have launched a new $4 million legal fund to assist developing countries with their big tobacco legal battles.
Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the launch of the new fund, which the NY Times referred to as “modest” in a recent report, on Wednesday.
Mike Bloomberg confirmed the joint fund in a tweet sent from his confirmed Twitter account Wednesday morning which he said it was “great” to partner up with Gates “to help countries fight back against tobacco companies”.
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) March 18, 2015
While the fund might be modest in the eyes of some, Mr. Bloomberg indicated in a conference call with reporters that the investment was essentially an initial marker which is expected to grow as more donors join the effort.
The new anti-tobacco trade litigation fund is designed to help developing countries ward off legal action from the tobacco industry over anti-smoking measures. In addition to assisting countries with legal fees, it will also assist countries in avoiding legal challenges and potential trade disputes when drafting legislation intended to control tobacco.
Bloomberg and Gates, between the two of them, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting smoking bans and other related measures intended to control tobacco in countries such as China and India.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Mr. Gates as having said in a statement that the leaders of countries “who are trying to protect their citizens from the harms of tobacco should not be deterred by threats of costly challenges from huge tobacco companies”. The report also quoted the former mayor of NY as having said that the idea behind the fund is to convey the message to tobacco companies that “they don’t have a free rein here.”
In other tobacco related coverage here on Immortal News, a study published earlier in the year indicated that smoking might be worse for human health than previously believed. The study suggests that the number of people who die each year in the United States as a result of smoking cigarettes might be “substantially greater” than what researchers have currently estimated.