Partners in Health: How CVS and the American Cancer Society Are Fighting Tobacco

 photo: Paolo Bona/shutterstock

photo: Paolo Bona/shutterstock

CVS Health recently announced a pledge to contribute a minimum of $10 million to the American Cancer Society through in-store fundraising over the next three years and to serve as the official retail pharmacy partner of the nation's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. 

The new funding will be raised to support cancer patient services programs, breakthrough research, and cancer prevention efforts, including tobacco control. During the campaign, CVS customers can support those affected by cancer by donating to the American Cancer Society at the register at 8,000 CVS locations nationwide, or online from August 5-25, 2018. The new philanthropic investment will directly support the American Cancer Society's breakthrough cancer research, free rides to treatments, free lodging near hospitals and a 24/7 live cancer helpline, as well as build on the two organizations' efforts to help more people lead tobacco-free lives.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 30 percent of cancer deaths this year will be caused by cigarette smoking. As reported previously by Inside Philanthropy, CVS stopped selling cigarettes in 2014, the same year it changed its name to CVS Health. It also became a funder of national smoking cessation programs.

In taking on anti-tobacco work, CVS Health entered a funding space that’s surprisingly small, given the impact of smoking on public health in the United States and globally. More than 480,000 deaths are attributed to smoking annually in the U.S., while the global death toll has been estimated at 6 million.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is the biggest player in the anti-tobacco space, most recently pledging $20 million to a global effort to counter the deceptive marketing and lobbying strategies of tobacco companies. All told, Michael Bloomberg has committed around $1 billion to the fight against tobacco. The Gates Foundation is another major player, here.

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CVS Health's latest commitment to the American Cancer Society builds on a partnership with the organization that includes providing tobacco-control expertise and support to the company's "Be The First initiative." 

"Be The First" is CVS Health's five-year, $50 million commitment to deliver the first tobacco-free generation. To date, the CVS Health Foundation and the American Cancer Society claim to have impacted more than 1 million students through grants that help colleges and universities advocate for, adopt and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies.

The two organizations will be announcing additional grants to major academic institutions across the country later this year. CVS Health and the American Cancer Society are also working together to identify opportunities along a patient's cancer journey to increase access to health products and services.