The CVS Health Foundation today announced it has awarded $1 million dollars in grants to eight Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) member cancer centers to build new smoking cessation programs or expand existing ones across the country, enabling each cancer institute to reach more at-risk patient populations.
Research from a 2014 American Cancer Society report demonstrates the seriousness of tobacco cravings among cancer patients and the need for better long-term cessation support. The study finds even nine years after being diagnosed with cancer, nearly 10 percent of survivors still smoke cigarettes and more than 80 percent smoke daily.
"AACI thanks the CVS Health Foundation for its important commitment to promoting tobacco cessation and improving cancer treatment outcomes," said AACI Executive Director Barbara Duffy Stewart, MPH. "While all of AACI's 97 cancer centers champion prevention efforts as they work to reduce the burden of cancer, the new grants targeting tobacco use will extend and expand the vital educational, screening and outreach efforts undertaken by the eight AACI member cancer centers that have been awarded funding."
The eight cancer centers, which received funding between $100,000 and $130,000 each, include: Abramson Cancer Center (Philadelphia); Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Cleveland); Hollings Cancer Center (Charleston, SC); Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center (Seattle); Mayo Clinic Cancer Center (Scottsdale); Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York); Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center (Dallas); and USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (Los Angeles).
The support will be used in a variety of ways including developing educational videos, enhancing screening protocols, hiring wellness coaches and tobacco treatment specialists and developing smoking cessation apps. Through the additional support, patients have already begun to see results in their attempts to quit smoking.
"I got diagnosed in August with cancer and was referred to Dr. Hooper who told me that if I quit smoking the chances of the cancer not coming back would be better, but if I continued to smoke there was a greater chance of the cancer returning, which I had no idea about," said Cynthia Anderson, a Cleveland-area patient of Monica Webb Hooper, PhD, Director of the Office of Cancer Disparities Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of oncology, psychological sciences, family medicine and community health at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "So, that's how I got started [in the program] and I actually got my husband on board as well. I do feel better, and I'm grateful that CVS Health is willing to give [smoking cessation] patches and gum to help us in our quest to stop smoking."
"Addressing smoking among at-risk populations, including cancer patients, is a priority for us," said Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation. "We're proud to support these world-class centers as they bring innovative smoking cessation offerings that will improve cancer treatment outcomes for patients, and bring us one step closer to the first tobacco-free generation."
Support for smoking cessation programs at cancer centers is part of CVS Health's Be The First initiative, a five year, $50 million commitment to help people lead tobacco-free lives and in turn, help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation. Through propriety programs and partnerships, the company's initiative delivers anti-smoking education, research and tobacco-control advocacy and healthy behavior programming. For more information, please visit CVSHealth.com/BeTheFirst.