CVS Health has committed to invest more than $1 million in grants to support tobacco-cessation and -prevention programs nationwide. The grants will be distributed to healthcare and community partners working to promote tobacco-free communities, programs that help people kick the habit and help those who don’t smoke to never start.
Among the awards are funds to support quit lines operated by National Jewish Health and the American Lung Association, which also partners with CVS Health on the LUNG FORCE initiative to fight cancer. These investments also build on the partnership developed between CVS Health and the American Cancer Society, which operates a quit line supporting the smoking cessation campaign CVS Health launched in September, when the company stopped selling tobacco products. With this announcement, CVS Health joins the American Cancer Society and advocates across the country in recognizing the Great American Smokeout.
Other grantees include the Baltimore-based B’More for Healthy Babies, with support for an innovative smoking cessation partnership with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield that helps new moms and pregnant women quit smoking, focusing particularly on high risk populations who have limited access to health care services. Another grant will allow CVS Health to partner with the American Lung Association of San Diego to support Live Well San Diego, a municipal, metropolitan-wide Health and Wellness Initiative, administered by the Department of Health, which will provide smoking cessation support and services for 1,750 residents who are currently part of the behavioral health system. Additionally, another grant will support the “Be Smart, Don’t Start” youth tobacco awareness and education program, which recently launched in 16 Connecticut Area Boys & Girls Clubs.
These grants are being made as research from the CVS Health Research Institute, published earlier this year with Health Affairs, illustrates the impact private sector action can have on smoking rates. Researchers looked at the impact of laws in Boston and San Francisco banning the sale of tobacco in retailers with pharmacies. They found a reduction in tobacco purchasers of up to 13 percent in those communities, meaning that if retailers with pharmacies across the country were to forgo sales of tobacco products, there could be as many as 60,000 fewer tobacco-related deaths per year.
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CVS made headlines earlier this year when it announced that it would be taking tobacco off the shelves as a long-term strategy to pivot from being a seller of goods to a provider of health services. The move is estimated to cost the company $2 billion in annual sales. In September, the pharmacy chain changed its corporate name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health, to reflect its broader commitment to healthcare.