CVS' Goal: Deliver Nation's First Tobacco-Free Generation

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health is entering the second year of its Be The First initiative with $10 million in funding for new and expanded partnerships and programs.

The Be The First initiative is the company's five-year, $50-million effort to help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation.

According to CVS, the partnerships and programs will roll out throughout 2017 and build upon the success of the first year in the areas of anti-smoking education, tobacco-control advocacy, and healthy behavior programming.

"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, 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."

CVS unveiled Be The First in March 2016. The initiative is directed at youth and young adults who use tobacco or who are at risk of becoming regular tobacco users, as well as the country's 3 million elementary school children, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Since kicking off the initiative, CVS Health has reached nearly 5 million young people with anti-smoking programming and has helped 20 colleges and universities pursue 100-percent, 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," she added.

As part of the CVS Health Foundation's five-year, $5 million commitment to support the efforts of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the CVS Health Foundation is funding a new online training program with courses to train youth and adults to become tobacco prevention ambassadors. 

According to CVS, the 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 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.

Woonsocket-based CVS Health operates more than 9,700 retail locations and more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics.

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