CVS Health has announced that it will fund $10 million in new and expanded partnerships and programs to launch the second year of Be The First, the company's five year, $50 million commitment to help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation.
WOONSOCKET, R.I., March 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), the nation's largest pharmacy innovation company, today announced it will fund $10 million in new and expanded partnerships and programs to launch the second year of Be The First, the company's five year, $50 million commitment to help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation. The partnerships and programs will roll out throughout 2017 and build upon the success of the first year in the areas of anti-smoking education, tobacco-control advocacy, and healthy behavior programming.
"Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, yet 2,100 youth and young adults still become daily cigarette smokers," said Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., and Chief Medical Officer for CVS Health. "CVS Health recognizes that by bringing together experts in the public health community and aggressively implementing strategies to reduce tobacco use, we have the opportunity to deliver the first tobacco-free generation."
Be The First was introduced in March 2016 and is directed at youth and young adults who currently smoke or are at risk of becoming regular tobacco users; the country's 3 million elementary school children who, without early tobacco education, may become future tobacco users; and adult smokers who expose children to tobacco use. Since launching the initiative, CVS Health has reached nearly 5 million young people with anti-smoking programming and has helped 20 colleges and universities pursue 100% smoke-and tobacco-free campus policies.
"In the year since we introduced Be The First, we've seen very good progress, but we know there is much more to be done in schools, on college campuses and in our communities," said Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation. "We're pleased to sustain this momentum by expanding partnerships with best-in-class organizations and identifying new partners that will bring the expertise needed to move us one step closer to the first tobacco-free generation."
Helping Our Kids "Kick Butts"
As part of the CVS Health Foundation's five year, $5 million commitment to support the efforts of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the CVS Health Foundation is funding a new online training program with courses to train youth and adults to become tobacco prevention ambassadors. These courses are focused on how tobacco affects youth, including the growing availability of candy-flavored e-cigarettes and cigars, and ways for people to advocate for tobacco-free communities. The announcement of this new resource coincides this week with Kick Butts Day on March 15, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids' national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and mobilize their communities in fighting tobacco use.
"CVS Health has shown tremendous leadership in helping people lead tobacco-free lives by bringing the public health and private sector communities together to work on this public health crisis," said Matthew L. Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and member of CVS Health's Be The First national advisory council. "We look forward to continuing to work with CVS Health to improve the lives of America's children and young adults and win the fight against tobacco for good."
Promoting Tobacco-Free College Campuses
As part of Be The First, CVS Health set actionable and measurable goals, including a doubling of the number of tobacco-free educational institutions in the United States. In 2017, the CVS Health Foundation and American Cancer Society will continue to help accelerate the number of colleges and universities that advocate for, adopt and implement a 100% smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy by supporting more than 50 new schools in their tobacco control efforts. Interested schools can apply online at www.cancer.org/tfgci.
This spring, the CVS Health Foundation and Truth Initiative, the national public health organization that leads truth, the nation's largest youth tobacco prevention campaign, will announce an expanded partnership to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities and community colleges across the country adopt 100% tobacco-free policies. This effort is especially relevant because African-American and low-income communities have been the target of tobacco industry marketing for decades.
Raising Awareness Across Communities
To increase awareness and advocacy in the communities it serves, CVS Health and the American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE are teaming up in the fight against tobacco to win the battle against lung cancer. The campaign, which will launch in May, will give customers an easy way to spread tobacco-free messaging in their communities and take advantage of tobacco-free resources for their towns, schools and public areas.
Delivering Smoking Cessation Services to Cancer Patients
CVS Health is also continuing its focus on supporting community-based cessation programs for adult smokers, who cause damage to their own health, as well as expose children to tobacco use and secondhand smoke. Later this year, Later this year, the CVS Health Foundation, through a partnership with the National Cancer Institute, will invest nearly $1 million to address smoking cessation in the oncology setting across several of the nation's leading cancer hospitals.
Be The First is funded through CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation, and comprises comprehensive anti-smoking education, tobacco control advocacy and healthy behavior programming in partnership with organizations uniquely positioned to tackle this public health challenge. For more program information, visit www.cvshealth.com/bethefirst.