Gates & Bloomberg Spending $500 Million On Anti-Smoking– Lobbying?

When you read this:

Bill Gates and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Wednesday that they would spend $500 million to stop people around the world from smoking.

The $500 million would be spent on a multipronged campaign — nicknamed Mpower — that Mr. Bloomberg and Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the health organization, outlined in February. It coordinates efforts by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the World Health Organization, the World Lung Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the foundation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

You’d think that they’re donating $500M of their own money to a number of groups– boots on the ground– who are fighting to educate people around the world about the dangers of smoking. In fact, you’d laud them for getting out there and putting their money behind their beliefs, rather than simply offering mealy-mouthed statements about what other people should or shouldn’t do.

But when you read a little bit farther, you get a different picture:

It will urge governments to sharply raise tobacco taxes, prohibit smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to children and cigarette giveaways, start antismoking advertising campaigns and offer people nicotine patches or other help quitting. Health officials, consumer advocates, journalists, tax officers and others from third world countries will be brought to the United States for workshops on topics like lobbying, public service advertising, catching cigarette smugglers and running telephone help lines for smokers wanting to quit. A list of grants is at

It’s clear this has nothing to do with educating the third world. They’ve got a little more bang-for-the-buck in mind. Why try to change attitudes of current and potential smokers, educating them of the dangers of their habits, when you can change the attitudes of their ruling elite and take away their freedom to smoke? They’re using the fruits of their labor– in a country free enough to allow them to accumulate such– to entice local governments to use tax dollars and regulation to fight the scourge of personal choice.

In doing so, I’m reminded of a certain definition provided by our good friend Coyote, the definition of a modern activist:

Activist: A person who believes so strongly that a problem needs to be remedied that she dedicates substantial time to … getting other people to fix the problem. It used to be that activists sought voluntary help for their pet problem, and thus retained some semblance of honor. However, our self-styled elite became frustrated at some point in the past that despite their Ivy League masters degrees in sociology, other people did not seem to respect their ideas nor were they particularly interested in the activist’s pet issues. So activists sought out the double shortcut of spending their time not solving the problem themselves, and not convincing other people to help, but convincing the government it should compel others to fix the supposed problem. This fascism of good intentions usually consists of government taking money from the populace to throw at the activist’s issue, but can also take the form of government-compelled labor and/or government limitations on choice.

Mssrs. Gates & Bloomberg: It would be honorable to use your considerable wealth in an education campaign to persuade people to change their ways. It would even be honorable to use your fame as a “force multiplier”, recruiting other wealthy benefactors to join your quest. To use that wealth in an effort to reduce freedom across the globe, lobbying governments to force or artificially induce others to bend to your will, though, is nothing but a continuation of nanny statism through private means.

Hat Tip: The Agitator