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CVS Health Foundation grants $1 million to cancer centers

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Awards to provide more resources for smoking cessation

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — The CVS Health Foundation has awarded $1 million dollars in grants to eight Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) member cancer centers.

CVS said Wednesday that the grants will help support new smoking cessation programs or expand current ones nationwide, which will enable each cancer institute to reach more at-risk patient populations.

The CVS smoking cessation support will be used in a range of ways, such as for developing educational videos, enhancing screening protocols, hiring wellness coaches and tobacco treatment specialists, and developing smoking cessation apps.

The eight cancer centers received funding of $100,000 to $130,000 each. They include the Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia; Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland; Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, S.C.; Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle; Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center in Dallas; and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles.

“Addressing smoking among at-risk populations, including cancer patients, is a priority for us,” Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation, said in a statement. “We’re proud to support these world-class centers as they bring innovative smoking cessation offerings that will improve cancer treatment outcomes for patients, and bring us one step closer to the first tobacco-free generation.”

CVS cited research from a 2014 American Cancer Society report shwoing the seriousness of tobacco cravings among cancer patients and the need for better long-term cessation support. The study found that even nine years after being diagnosed with cancer, almost 10% of survivors still smoke cigarettes, and more than 80% smoke daily.

“AACI thanks the CVS Health Foundation for its important commitment to promoting tobacco cessation and improving cancer treatment outcomes,” commented AACI executive director Barbara Duffy Stewart. “While all of AACI’s 97 cancer centers champion prevention efforts as they work to reduce the burden of cancer, the new grants targeting tobacco use will extend and expand the vital educational, screening and outreach efforts undertaken by the eight AACI member cancer centers that have been awarded funding.”

Cynthia Anderson, a Cleveland-area patient of Monica Webb Hooper, director of the office of cancer disparities research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was told by Hooper that if she quit smoking her chances of her cancer not recurring would improve, yet if she continued to smoke the chance of cancer returing would rise.

“So, that’s how I got started [in the smoking cessation program], and I actually got my husband on board as well,” according to Anderson. “I do feel better, and I’m grateful that CVS Health is willing to give [smoking cessation] patches and gum to help us in our quest to stop smoking.”

Support for smoking cessation programs at cancer centers is part of CVS Health’s “Be The First” initiative, a five year, $50 million commitment to help people lead tobacco-free lives and in turn, help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.


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