WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health has launched a major initiative to stop people from smoking before they start.
The chain drug retailer has introduced Be The First, a five-year, $50 million antismoking campaign targeting youth, with a goal of creating the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.
Funded through CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation, the initiative includes education, advocacy, tobacco control and healthy behavior programming in partnership with organizations positioned to act on the public health issue of tobacco use.
Be The First aims to reach youth and young adults who use tobacco or who may become regular tobacco users and elementary school children who, without early tobacco education, may become future tobacco users. CVS said the initiative will provide additional support of community-based smoking cessation programs for adults who expose children to tobacco use in the home and other public venues that allow smoking.
Through Be The First, CVS Health over the next five years aims to contribute to a 3% decrease in the U.S. youth smoking rate and a 10% decline in the number of new youth smokers, as well as to help double the number of tobacco-free college and university campuses.
“We are at a critical moment in our nation’s efforts to end the epidemic of tobacco use that continues to kill more people than any other preventable cause of death, and threatens the health and well-being of our next generation,” CVS Health chief medical officer Dr. Troy Brennan said in a statement. “Ensuring our youth stay tobacco-free requires increased education and awareness of healthy behaviors. We’re partnering with experts across the public health community who have established best practices to help prevent tobacco use.
“By establishing more public-private partnerships to implement these strategies more aggressively, we can help increase the number of people leading tobacco-free lives and move us one step closer to delivering the first tobacco-free generation.”
CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation have enlisted leading anti-tobacco and youth organizations to support programs that address parts of the tobacco epidemic. Those efforts include new and expanded tobacco education programming with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Scholastic Inc. as well as advocacy and tobacco-control initiatives with such organizations as the American Cancer Society and the National Urban League to help reduce rates of smoking and other tobacco use among teens and young adults.
CVS Health has also stepped up efforts to promote smoking cessation in its pharmacies and is convening a national group of thought leaders who will advise on trends, initiatives and strategies to help the company achieve its goal of making the next generation tobacco free.