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CVS Health and Truth Initiative challenge all women’s colleges to go tobacco-free

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In their shared commitment to helping deliver the first tobacco-free generation, CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) and Truth Initiative® are calling on women’s colleges in the U.S. to apply for their grant program dedicated to helping colleges and universities advocate for, adopt and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies.

Currently, only 10 of 38 women’s colleges, and just 1,853 of all colleges and universities in the U.S. have 100 percent tobacco-free policies in place. Applications for grants are being accepted through Sept. 13, 2018.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 200,000 women die of tobacco-related diseases. Additionally, 13.6 percent of women smoke cigarettes and 15.4 percent use some type of tobacco product. Research also shows that over the past several decades, women have been slower to quit than men, with a 40 percent smoking rate decrease among men compared with just a 30 percent decrease among women.

"While there has been great progress made in reducing smoking in our country, research shows that casual smoking, especially among women, has continued in recent years, and college-aged women are at particular risk for becoming smokers,” said Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation. “Through our continued partnership with Truth Initiative, we are encouraging the remaining women’s colleges to take the next step in becoming tobacco-free campuses and bring us one step closer to a tobacco-free generation.”

The latest grants are part of Be The First, CVS Health's five-year, $50 million initiative that supports education, tobacco control and healthy behavior programming with the goal of helping to deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation. Since 2016, CVS Health has reached more than 4 million young people with the help of the nation’s leading tobacco control partners and is building on the 146 colleges and universities they are helping become tobacco-free with this additional support from Truth Initiative.

“Our partnership with the CVS Health Foundation has already helped hundreds of thousands of students, faculty and staff at historically black colleges and universities, community colleges and minority-serving institutions learn and work in tobacco- and smoke-free environments,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “We are eager to expand our grant program to include women’s colleges and help accelerate progress in creating the first tobacco-free generation, especially among women whose smoking rates have declined slower than men.” 

Ninety-eight percent of smokers start smoking by the time they turn 26. Despite lower youth and young adult smoking rates overall, smoking on college campuses remains a health problem in the U.S.  

“With generous support from Truth Initiative and the CVS Health Foundation, more of our 38 women's colleges and universities will have the opportunity to adopt tobacco- and smoke-free campus policies,” said Michele Ozumba, president of the Women’s College Coalition. “We're proud to be part of this important movement as it aligns perfectly with Women's College Coalition's commitment to building a culture of health across all of our member institutions.”

Applications for women’s colleges are being accepted through Sept. 13, 2018 and more information can be found at truthinitiative.org/collegegrant. Grants are also available to historically black colleges and universities, community colleges and other minority-serving institutions.

Since the launch of its tobacco-free college program in 2015, Truth Initiative has awarded funding to 152 minority-serving academic institutions and community colleges, including 83 in partnership with the CVS Health Foundation. To date, 87 of these colleges have gone smoke- or tobacco-free, covering 38 states.

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