CVS commits $10M to eradicate tobacco use among nation’s youth
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health will spend $10 million in new and expanded partnerships and programs to launch the second year of Be The First, its five-year, $50 million commitment in an effort to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.
Introduced in March 2016, the program is targeted toward 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.
"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.
According to CVS, since launching the initiative, it 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."
CVS also announced 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."