CVS Health Launches Year Three of Be The First, Its $50 Million Initiative To Help Deliver a Tobacco-Free Generation

CVS Health has announced that it will award $10 million in 2018 to continue to support youth smoking prevention and education programs and strategies throughout the United States. The new commitments, funded through the company and the CVS Health Foundation, are part of Be The First, CVS Health’s five-year $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.

“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,” said Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. and Chief Medical Officer for CVS Health. “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.”

Since it was introduced in 2016, Be The First has delivered meaningful support to the country’s ongoing efforts to prevent smoking and nicotine addiction among youth which is critical to ending tobacco use in the United States. By funding programs with the nation’s leading tobacco control advocates, including the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, CATCH Global Foundation and Truth Initiative, CVS Health has helped reach more than 4 million young people with effective anti-smoking education and healthy behavior programming and 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 to reach more students across the country.

  • Yale’s smokeSCREEN Game − The smokeSCREEN game from the play2PREVENT Lab at the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games is a highly interactive narrative-based videogame app in which players “travel” through life, facing the range of challenges that young teens face with a dedicated focus on youth decision-making about smoking and tobacco use and includes strategies for both smoking prevention and cessation.
  • Stanford’s Tobacco Prevention Toolkit − The Tobacco Prevention Toolkit from Stanford School of Medicine is a free, online resource for anyone who works with youth. It contains a set of eight modules providing interactive lessons and activities focused on e-cigarettes and vapes, including JUULs, hookah, smokeless tobacco and cigarettes; messages on nicotine addiction, information and resources concerning positive youth development; and information about school tobacco policies and tobacco control efforts. The Toolkit is being used in every state in the United States.

“We appreciate the funding from the CVS Health Foundation, which supports our work to expand the content and disseminate the Toolkit across the country,” said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford School of Medicine and Founder and Executive Director of the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit. “We are grateful for the company’s investment in such an important goal of making the next generation tobacco free.”

CVS Health expects its investments in the Stanford Toolkit and Yale’s smokeSCREEN game app will 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 numerous mobile platforms, including the Google and Apple app stores.

“The grant from the CVS Health Foundation on this critical initiative not only allows a platform to expand the reach of our work with serious videogame interventions, but also holds the promise of significantly impacting the problem of cigarette smoking and the rapidly emerging concern of e-cigarette use in adolescents,” said Lynn Fiellin, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games.

Additionally, the CVS Health Foundation will build on the success of partnerships with Truth Initiative and the American Cancer Society to increase the number of tobacco-free college campuses later in 2018. 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, as part of a shared goal to expand the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking and tobacco use.

“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,” said 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.”

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.

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