CVS Health gives more than $1.4M for tobacco-free campuses

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CVS Health gives more than $1.4M for tobacco-free campuses

By Sandra Levy - 03/19/2019
CVS Health is putting some financial resources toward tobacco-free campuses. The company on Tuesday announced it is giving more than $1.4 million through the CVS Health Foundation to 82 U.S. colleges and universities in an effort to help them to advocate for, adopt and implement 100% smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies, including limiting the use of e-cigarettes.

The new grants, delivered in partnership with the American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative, build upon the three organizations' combined commitment to helping deliver a tobacco-free generation, CVS Health said.

Spanning 35 states, new grantees include major academic institutions, including Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of Hawaii, Indiana State University, University of New Hampshire, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Grants will also be provided to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Allen University and West Virginia State University; women's colleges, including Bryn Mawr College; and community colleges, including Baltimore City Community College.

While conventional cigarette smoking among high school students has fallen by almost 50% since 2011, e-cigarette use has surged over the last year, especially among young people there are 2.8 million young adults aged 18-24 who are current e-cigarette users. The spread of e-cigarettes risks a reversal of the progress made in reducing smoking over the last two decades given that young people who vape are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future, the company said.

"A critical goal for us in building healthier communities across the country is reducing tobacco-use, which remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in this country," CVS Health Foundation president Eileen Howard Boone said. "By helping more colleges and universities explore and execute on tobacco-free policies, we're able to positively influence the number of new college-age smokers and get one step closer to our goal of seeing the first tobacco-free generation."

The grants are part of Be The First, CVS Health's five-year, $50 million initiative to deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation, which is a major program within the company's new $100 million Building Healthier Communities initiative. While the number of U.S. colleges and universities that are smoke- or tobacco-free has doubled since 2012, approximately half of the nearly 5,000 schools across the country still have no comprehensive policy in place.

With the CVS Health Foundation's support, the American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative programs help students, faculty and staff develop and execute strategies that are customized to meet the unique needs of each campus and move the schools toward a 100% smoke- and tobacco-free environment. Together, the organizations have provided financial and technical support to more than 200 colleges and universities since 2016, helping to clear the air for more than one million students.

"While the teen smoking rate has fallen to an all-time low of 4.6%, the rapid rise in e-cigarette use threatens to erase this progress given youth who vape are four times more likely to progress to smoking deadly cigarettes," Truth Initiative CEO and president Robin Koval said. "Over the years, we've had great success in working with colleges to go smoke- and tobacco-free. They now play a critical role in also addressing the e-cigarette epidemic as vaping becomes even more prevalent on campuses across the U.S. Together with our partners, we look forward to empowering as many colleges and universities as possible with the information and resources they need to end all tobacco use for good."

"Cigarettes cause more than 480,000 U.S. deaths annually and are responsible for nearly 29% of all cancer deaths in the U.S.," American Cancer Society CEO Gary Reedy said. "College is a time when young adults are susceptible to developing or perpetuating an addiction to nicotine and tobacco. This partnership continues to enable us to help reduce tobacco use among college students and therefore reduce the number of people impacted by tobacco-related diseases."

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