Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ERA bags Bloomberg Philantrophies Awards

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria has been announced as one of four awardees of the 2009 Bloomberg Awards for Global Tobacco Control. “I applaud the award recipients for their extraordinary commitment to confront the tobacco epidemic – the most important public health effort of out time.” said Michael R. Bloomberg. Each award winner received a grant of $100,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies to intensify their work in tobacco control.  Nominations and selection for the Bloomberg Awards for Global Tobacco Control were completed by a panel of international experts.

The awards for excellence in monitoring and publicizing tobacco industry activities intended to increase tobacco use and undermine tobacco control effort was accepted by Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, a Programme Manager with ERA/FOEN at the 14th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai, India. “Tobacco companies have mapped out the tender lungs of our youth and women as enormous profit opportunities” “Sadly, Africa is the newest frontier for tobacco companies.” “This is what ERA/FOEN is dedicated to resisting.”Mr. Oluwafemi said. ERA/FOEN has monitored and exposed the marketing activities of the tobacco industry, and they have faced the industry’s numerous attempts to undermine tobacco control policies in Nigeria head-on by exposing the front groups used by the industry to carry out its activities. They have also highlighted unfair practices towards tobacco farmers and indifference to child labor.

The awards were created this year to recognize governments and non-governmental organizations in low- and middle-income countries that demonstrate extraordinary achievement in the implementation of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) MPOWER policies regarding tobacco control. The awards included $400,000 in grants and were given by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. Patricia E. Harris, a representative of Bloomberg Philanthropies, who is also First Deputy Mayor of the City of New York, presided over the awards ceremony, which was attended by representatives from governments and tobacco control organizations from over 30 countries.

The Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use was established in 2006 by Michael R. Bloomberg and includes a $375 million commitment over six years to combat the global tobacco epidemic. Modeled after internationally proven strategies and the policies that worked in New York City where Mr. Bloomberg is Mayor, the Initiative supports government and non-governmental projects and policies that reduce tobacco use and save lives.  This includes increasing tobacco taxes, changing the image of tobacco, protecting nonsmokers from exposure to other people’s smoke and helping people quit.

Tobacco is the single greatest preventable cause of death in the world today, killing half of smokers unless they quit. More than one billion people worldwide currently smoke tobacco – about one quarter of adults – and tobacco use currently kills more than five million people worldwide each year. Tobacco use continues to grow in developing countries due to steady population growth along with aggressive tobacco industry marketing efforts. If current trends continue, deaths from tobacco will double in the next few decades, and could kill a billion people this century. More than three quarters of these deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries. “Through MPOWER, we have proven methods for how to greatly reduce smoking and save millions of lives worldwide, and need organizations with the will and dedication to implement them.” said Michael R. Bloomberg.

 

The six components of MPOWER are:

           

Monitor tobacco use and the policies to prevent it

            Protect people from tobacco smoke

            Offer people help to quit tobacco use

            Warn about the dangers of tobacco

            Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship

            Raise taxes on tobacco

 

Other awardees include: Mexico City Federal District Secretary of Health for protecting people from the dangers of tobacco smoke by providing essential political commitment to the recent passage of comprehensive smoke-free air legislation in Mexico City. Action on Smoking and Health Thailand (ASH Thailand) for warning people about the dangers of tobacco by providing extensive support to the revision of Thailand’s health warnings, ensuring that they were as strong as possible. Coalicion PanameƱa contra el Tabaquismo (COPACET) for implementation and enforcement of bans on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion in Panama.

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