CVS Health Announces Aggressive New Plans to Combat the Significant Rise in E-Cigarette Use Among Youth

Given the significant increase in the number of teens using e-cigarettes, CVS Health today announced that it and its charitable foundations will award a total of more than $10 million in 2019 to support youth smoking and e-cigarette prevention strategies and education delivered in classrooms, by clinicians and in communities across the United States. The new commitment, funded through the company and the CVS Health and Aetna Foundations, is part of Be The First, CVS Health’s five-year $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.

“The spread of e-cigarette use among youth jeopardizes the progress made in reducing smoking over the last two decades,” said Troyen Brennan, M.D., M.P.H. and Chief Medical Officer for CVS Health.  “By collaborating with experts and aggressively investing in innovative strategies, we believe that we can help reverse this disturbing trend.”

According to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, there are 3.6 million middle and high school students who are current e-cigarette users, a dramatic increase from the more than 1.5 million students the previous year. This represents a 78 percent increase among high school students, and a 48 percent increase among middle school students. Research shows young people who vape are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future, according to Truth Initiative®.

In launching year four of its signature Be The First initiative, CVS Health and its Foundations are creating new collaborations and supporting the expansion of effective programs to help thwart the significant rise in youth e-cigarette use.

Delivering Youth Smoking and E-Cigarette Prevention in the Classroom

The CVS Health Foundation is investing in a multi-year, multi-million dollar collaboration with Discovery Education to create and distribute standards-aligned digital curriculum resources and engaging content to help middle and high school students learn about the risks of e-cigarette use. Leveraging Discovery Education’s instructional expertise, production capabilities, and strong distribution channels, these resources will be available to every school district in the U.S. with plans to integrate best in-class curriculum partners including the CATCH Global Foundation’s CATCH My Breath youth e-cigarette prevention program. As part of the program, instructional and programmatic resources will be provided to students, educators, and parents at no-cost.

Additionally, a new two year, $2 million grant will be used to support a first-of-its-kind quit vaping program, developed by Truth Initiative to help teens and young adults break free from e-cigarettes. Called #ThisIsQuitting and part of the truth campaign, the text message program offers young people a free, confidential, and anonymous way to access behavioral and peer-to-peer social support to quit vaping. Designed with the help of teens, college students and young adults who have attempted to or successfully quit e-cigarettes, the program can be accessed by texting  “QUIT” to 706-222-QUIT or by visiting  Users receive interactive daily text messages tailored by age and delivered around their sign-up date or quit date. Grounded in the best available evidence for treating tobacco addiction, the program provides encouragement, motivation, skill- and self-efficacy building exercises, coping strategies, and information about the risks of vaping and benefits of quitting.

CVS Health and Foundation will also be supporting a number of classroom-based programs in 2019 including:

  • A new $100,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation to SHAPE America will help distribute the smokeSCREEN game from the play2PREVENT Lab at the Yale Center for Health and Learning Games to schools across the country, with the goal of reaching up to 500,000 students in 2019. The smokeSCREEN game is now also available in the Apple app store and Google Play.
  • The CVS Health Foundation will support the expansion of Stanford School of Medicine’s Tobacco Prevention Toolkit to at least eight new states, with the goal of reaching a minimum of 150,000 additional students over the next 18 months. The Toolkit is currently being used by thousands of educators, reaching over 350,000 students per year.
  • will partner with CVS Health to mobilize youth on multiple digital and social media platforms to help them educate and engage others on the e-cigarette epidemic.

Assisting Clinicians with Resources to Address e-Cigarette Use

A $600,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation will support the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation’s efforts to enhance its signature Ask and Act program to address the rapid emergence of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including vaping devices. The updated Ask and Act program will provide family clinicians with the resources they need to appropriately counsel youth patients on the dangers of ENDS, as well as cessation options.

Additionally, new support from the Aetna Foundation later this year will bolster clinician education and training for children’s health professionals and family physicians around youth use of e-cigarettes.

CVS Health will also support clinician training in local communities across the country, including new grants to:

  • Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas to implement e-cigarette prevention and awareness materials into well visits for 100,000 youth and their parents.
  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona to have clinicians implement the “Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)” substance abuse screening program for pediatric clients and at-risk youth.
  • Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics to incorporate a youth tobacco screening tool to assist health care providers in identifying adolescent smoking/vaping behavior and smoke exposure, and to equip health care providers with resources to share with their patients and caregivers.

Providing Communities with E-Cigarette Education

In addition, CVS Health has supported tobacco-free prevention and education in local communities across the country, including new grants to:

  • Breathe New Hampshire will utilize funding to provide approximately 5,000 people across the state of New Hampshire with their signature program called Vaping Unveiled. The program provides teens, parents, educators, healthcare providers and community members with education on the impact of vaping and nicotine addiction.
  • Youth and Shelter Services in Iowa will use part of their funding for educational presentations to school district staff, parents, businesses, civic groups and the community at large in Central Iowa.
  • Tobacco-Free Rhode Island, which will help educate community stakeholders on the dangers of youth e-cigarette use through presentations, workshops, public awareness campaigns, and school-based initiatives.

“We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s efforts to end the epidemic of e-cigarette use among children that is contributing to a rise in youth smoking,” said Eileen Howard Boone, Senior Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy and President, CVS Health Foundation. “By collaborating with leading organizations across the public health community to implement more aggressive strategies, we can make a significant impact on the health of our next generation.”

Since launching Be The First in 2016, CVS Health has reached more than nine million youth with smoking prevention initiatives. The company and the CVS Foundation have awarded more than $30 million in grants to organizations that provide an array of programming that support its focus areas, including: youth tobacco and e-cigarette prevention in classrooms and communities across the country; supporting clinicians with training and resources on screening youth for tobacco use; helping youth in all 50 states become tobacco-free advocates in their own communities; and helping more than 200 college campuses advocate for, adopt and implement smoke- and tobacco-free policies across the country.

Funded through CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation, Be The First is comprised of comprehensive anti-smoking education, tobacco control advocacy and healthy behavior programming and is a major program within the company’s new $100 million Building Healthier Communities initiative. For more information, visit



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