CVS Announces New Initiative, Commitment to a Tobacco-Free Generation

Be The First is a 5-year, $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation.

After cleaning their shelves of tobacco products, CVS Health has further strengthened its commitment against the use of tobacco by announcing the Be The First initiative—a 5-year $50 million program to help deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation. The initiative is a partnership between CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation.

In a press release the company says it recognizes tobacco use as the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the country. With Be The First, CVS hopes to influence the choice of the younger generation against using tobacco products through comprehensive education, advocacy, tobacco control, and healthy behavior programming.

“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,” said Troyen A. Brennan, MD, MPH, chief medical officer for CVS Health 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. And, 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.”

According to the press release, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation are partnering with leading anti-tobacco and youth organizations to support programs that address a unique part of the tobacco epidemic. These 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 organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the National Urban League to accelerate declines in rates of smoking and other tobacco use among teens and young adults.

In addition to its focus on supporting community-based cessation programs for adult smokers who expose children to tobacco use in the home and other public venues that permit smoking, Be The First aims to prevent youth, young adults, and elementary school children from being future smokers.

Matthew L. Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, praised CVS’ efforts. “Both the public health community and private sectors must work together if we are to advance a national strategy to end the tobacco epidemic, especially among our children,” Myers said. “We applaud CVS Health for continuing to demonstrate its leadership and commitment to helping people lead tobacco-free lives with this significant investment in the health and well-being of the next generation of Americans.”

With actionable and measurable goals over the next 5 year, the program will hopefully see the results it hopes to achieve:

  • contributing to a 3% decline in the national youth smoking rate
  • 10% decline in the number of new youth smokers
  • doubling the number of tobacco-free college and university campuses.