WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As part of its “Be The First” multiyear smoking cessation campaign, CVS Health plans to award $10 million this year to support youth smoking prevention and education programs and strategies nationwide.
CVS said Monday that the new commitments, funded through the company and the CVS Health Foundation, are part of its Be The First five-year, $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation. The CVS Be The First effort was launched in March 2016.
“After just two years, we’re encouraged by our contributions to a continuing decline in youth smoking rates, however far too many young people are still using a variety of harmful tobacco and nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes and vapes, that facilitate initiation of tobacco use,” Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Health, said in a statement. “By reducing the number of people that are exposed to tobacco, we can reduce the prevalence of tobacco-related diseases including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, and make a significant impact on the health of our next generation.”
By funding programs with leading tobacco control advocates — including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, CATCH Global Foundation and Truth Initiative — CVS has helped reach more than 4 million young people with anti-smoking education and healthy behavior programming, the company said. CVS also is helping 146 colleges and universities advocate for, adopt and implement tobacco-free campus policies.
Among the new investments being delivered in 2018 are a $1.4 million grant to the play2PREVENT Lab at the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games and a $500,000 grant to the Stanford University School of Medicine over three years to help enhance and scale current pilot programs, including the Standford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit, to reach more students across the country.
CVS said it expects its investments in the Stanford Toolkit and Yale’s smokeSCREEN game app to reach more than 200,000 adolescents each year through schools and other youth-serving organizations. The company is also working to help expand access to the program later in 2018 through various mobile platforms, including the Google and Apple app stores.
In addition, the CVS Health Foundation said that this year it will build on partnerships with the Truth Initiative and the American Cancer Society to increase the number of tobacco-free college campuses. Grants will be available to help more than 70 additional colleges and universities across the country advocate for, adopt and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies.
“In the two years 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,” commented Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation. “We recognize that by collaborating with experts from academia and the public health community and aggressively investing in innovative strategies to reduce smoking and tobacco use, we can protect our youth from this preventable health risk and bring us one step closer to realizing our goal of a tobacco-free generation.”