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If there ever was a pair to conquer the worldwide smoking problem, it wouldn’t hurt if they had a few billion dollars on their hands. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that they would contribute $500 million to help people quit smoking around the world.
The addiction is one that the World Health Organization says will kill as many as a billion people in the 21st century—that’s 10 times the amount of tobacco-related deaths that occurred in the 20th century. And it's not just a Western problem: Experts say many of those addicted to nicotine will hail from poorer countries like Bagledesh, or a middle-income country, such as Russia.
Bloomberg said that he is not expecting to obliterate the tobacco problem, but he hopes it will at least make a positive change in the epidemic. And the effort sure is a grand one—anti-smoking campaigns in poor and middle-income countries only accumulate to about $20 million per year.
The campaign, nicknamed Mpower, will ask governments to contribute to several efforts, including raising tobacco taxes, prohibiting smoking in public places and handing out nicotine patches to help smokers quit.
We want to know: What’s your opinion on the antismoking effort? How would it change your life? [The New York Times]