Bill Gates Wants India to Quit Smoking

…and China too.

Taking on cigarette giants that are aggressively targeting developing countries, billionaires Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have jointly pledged $500 million for a massive anti-smoking campaign with special focus on India and China.

A world without tobacco “is a world in which people live longer and have happier lives,” Bloomberg, New York Mayor who has a fortune of USD 16 billion, said at a joint press conference with the Microsoft founder Gates.

Gates and Bloomberg said the money would go to anti-smoking groups working with governments to curb the consumption of tobacco and related products, including World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The global tobacco market is expected to rise to USD 464 billion by 2012 and the campaign against “global tobacco epidemic” comes at a time when number of smokers in the US is decreasing and American multinationals are looking for markets for cigarettes abroad especially in the developing nations.

Bill and Malinda Foundation will donate USD 125 million to the campaign while Bloomberg will contribute USD 250 million, apart from the USD 125 million he pledged earlier.

The two most populous countries, India and China, need special attention, said Gates. He is worth USD 58 billion and stepped down as full time executive of Microsoft in June.

But China is more difficult as the government owns cigarette manufacturing companies and draws revenue from them, Bloomberg, a former smoker, added.

“We do not want the modern-day heroes to be cigarette smoking,” Bloomberg said.

Via Times of India