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CVS Health awards $1.4M in new grants to help 82 more colleges and universities go smoke free

ACS and Truth Initiative will deliver programs to help students, faculty, and staff develop and execute strategies to help achieve a 100% smoke- and tobacco-free environment

As part of its commitment to building healthier communities, CVS Health today announced more than $1.4 million in new giving through the CVS Health Foundation to 82 U.S. colleges and universities, helping them to advocate for, adopt, and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies, including limiting the use of e-cigarettes. The new grants, delivered in partnership with the American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative, build upon the three organizations' combined commitment to helping deliver a tobacco-free generation. 

Spanning 35 states, new grantees include major academic institutions, including Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of Hawaii, Indiana State University, University of New Hampshire, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Grants will also be provided to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including Allen University and West Virginia State University; women's colleges, including Bryn Mawr College; and community colleges, including Baltimore City Community College. For a full list of grantees, visit

The funding will help accelerate and expand the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking, e-cigarette, and other tobacco product use. While conventional cigarette smoking among high school students has fallen by almost 50% since 2011, e-cigarette use has surged over the last year, especially among young people. There are 2.8 million young adults aged 18-24 who are current e-cigarette users. The spread of e-cigarettes risks a reversal of the progress made in reducing smoking over the last two decades given that young people who vape are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future.

 "A critical goal for us in building healthier communities across the country is reducing tobacco-use, which remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in this country," said Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation. 

The grants are part of Be The First, CVS Health's five-year, $50 million initiative to deliver the nation's first tobacco-free generation, which is a major program within the company's new $100 million Building Healthier Communities initiative. While the number of U.S. colleges and universities that are smoke- or tobacco-free has doubled since 2012, approximately half of the nearly 5,000 schools across the country still have no comprehensive policy in place.

With the CVS Health Foundation's support, the American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative programs help students, faculty, and staff develop and execute strategies that are customized to meet the unique needs of each campus, and move the schools toward a 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free environment. Together, the organizations have provided financial and technical support to more than 200 colleges and universities since 2016, helping to clear the air for more than one million students. 

"While the teen smoking rate has fallen to an all-time low of 4.6 percent, the rapid rise in e-cigarette use threatens to erase this progress given youth who vape are four times more likely to progress to smoking deadly cigarettes " said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. "Over the years, we've had great success in working with colleges to go smoke- and tobacco-free. They now play a critical role in also addressing the e-cigarette epidemic as vaping becomes even more prevalent on campuses across the U.S. Together with our partners, we look forward to empowering as many colleges and universities as possible with the information and resources they need to end all tobacco use for good."

"Cigarettes cause more than 480,000 U.S. deaths annually and are responsible for nearly 29 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S.," said Gary Reedy, our CEO. "College is a time when young adults are susceptible to developing or perpetuating an addiction to nicotine and tobacco. This partnership continues to enable us to help reduce tobacco use among college students and therefore reduce the number of people impacted by tobacco-related diseases."

To see the full list of colleges supported by these grants and for more information on the grant application process, please visit

About CVS Health

CVS Health has more than 9,800 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 93 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, and a stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. CVS Health also serves an estimated 39 million people through traditional, voluntary, and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including a rapidly expanding Medicare Advantage offering. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at

About the CVS Health Foundation

The CVS Health Foundation is a private charitable organization created by CVS Health that works to build healthier communities, enabling people of all ages to lead healthy, productive lives. The Foundation provides strategic investments to nonprofit partners throughout the U.S. who help increase community-based access to health care for underserved populations, create innovative approaches to chronic disease management, and provide tobacco cessation and youth prevention programming. It also invests in scholarship programs that open the pathways to careers in pharmacy. To learn more about the CVS Health Foundation and its giving, visit

  • ACS SOURCE Program Champion dies in Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Bella Jaboma was known for her compassion for children with cancer

    Bella Jaboma (second from left above), a volunteer leader with the Kenyan civil society organization Hope For Cancer Kids and American Cancer Society Strengthening Organizations for a United response to the Cancer Epidemic (SOURCE) Program Champion, passed away March 10 after Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff. Bella was on her way home from a conference in Egypt, where she shared successes and best practices for serving pediatric cancer patients in Kenya.

    Bella volunteered countless hours with Hope For Cancer Kids, providing clinical, psychosocial, and financial support to pediatric cancer patients undergoing treatment at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital. Her colleagues recall that she was constantly in communication with the young patients, their caregivers, doctors, and the national health insurance fund to ensure every child received quality treatment and care.

    Members of the American Cancer Society’s Global Cancer Control team had the distinct honor of working with Bella through our SOURCE Program, which provides organizational assessment, training, and technical assistance aimed at strengthening nonprofit organizations’ ability to deliver on their mission and improve operational efficiency. As the SOURCE Program Champion for Hope For Cancer Kids, Bella led her organization in setting up the policies, systems and processes, moving the organization forward with stronger programs and more efficiency than it had before. 

    Our team had the pleasure of working with Bella on other projects, including a cancer advocacy workshop co-organized by the Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations and the American Cancer Society last March. Bella’s enthusiasm was unforgettable. Her contributions were always well articulated and thoughtful, and she always had a clear vision of how to proceed from an idea to implementation.

    “Bella was a force for good within the Kenyan cancer community and the SOURCE Program,” said Sally Cowal, SVP, global cancer control. “Her warm, dedicated spirit will be sorely missed, but I know her legacy of compassion for children with cancer will be felt each and every day.”

    Bella’s gentle, calm spirit, and infectious smile endeared her to pediatric cancer patients, and she treated each patient as if they were members of her own family. Her loss will not only be felt at Hope For Cancer Kids, but within the wider cancer community. Many of Bella’s colleagues have shared their memories of her. We are including them below, so that her memory will continue to live in the years to come.

    • "Bella is a friend I met at SOURCE but she became more than a friend. Yesterday I was talking to an oncologist in in a remote regional hospital. I told her Bella had passed on and she almost collapsed on the other end of the phone. I had introduced her to Bella about a year ago when she was having problems with kids whose parents cannot pay medical bills. She knew of how long Bella spent daily talking to the kids and their caregivers. The doctor could not believe we're mourning someone she knows so well through her work, but had never met in person. Shine on, Bella." - Josephine Sitawa, SOURCE Program Champion, Breast Cancer Kenya
    • "Bella was never loud in meetings. She had a gentle, quiet, calm spirit and the most infectious big smile that made her eyes sparkle. Her passion for nutritional therapy in immune-suppressed patients was so real. She came alive and was very vibrant while discussing nutrition and anything to do with kids. I will never forget her ever-present help when patients were dealing with national health insurance registration. I will miss her greatly." - Elizabeth Mbuthia, SOURCE Program Champion, Women for Cancer Early Detection and Treatment
    • "I am still in the denial phase of mourning. Being a focused and hard-working champion, she always reminded me of assignments I needed to work on, meetings we needed to attend. I had a challenge with my tracker and she helped me with a smile. She was ambitious, hardworking and always smiling." - Dr. Asaph Kinyanjui, SOURCE Program Champion, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA)
    • "The way Bella kept us aware of all H4CK events was amazing. It showed how passionate she was about what she did.  Her compassion for kids with cancer spoke loudly for someone with a quiet and humble spirit. May God raise another champion to continue the cause and keep the fire burning." - Petronilla Maina, SOURCE Champion, Hope Beyond Cancer Trust
    • "Bella was a great advocate for children diagnosed with childhood cancers. She worked tirelessly and gave completely of herself, on a voluntary basis with no salary to ensure every child she came across that had cancer was enrolled into the National Health Insurance Fund and into Kenyatta hospital for treatment. She followed up with the families as if the children were her own to ensure the kids got access to quality treatment and care. A very young girl with the biggest heart in the world." - Jessica Kilonzo, Steps Ahead Consulting (SOURCE Program Implementing Partner)
    • "Bella, you were a charismatic young lady who was dedicated to her work, full of compassion for the children you worked with and their families.  You were stubborn and made sure you got what you wanted for children suffering from cancer; you tirelessly extended your love to them. Bella, you will be missed by many, your smile will forever remain with us. Your legacy lives forever. Rest in peace our dear friend." - Dr. Zipporah Ali, MD, Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association

  • Grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes could impact travel for ACS volunteers and staff

    Passengers on Southwest, American, and United might be impacted

    Future air travel for some volunteers and staff may be impacted by the recent grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. According to the airlines, travelers on Southwest, American, and United might be impacted. 

    If you are affected, the airline will be contacting you directly to communicate changes. 

    In the event your flights are changed, you will need to change any associated hotel, rental car, or rail travel that applies. Changes can be made by calling BCD Travel (800-952-5770, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET). 

    BCD Travel expects the overall impact to be minimal given the relatively small number of Boeing 737 Max aircraft in most fleets. Southwest Airlines, which has the largest number of the planes, at 34, says they account for only 4% of their total fleet.  

    The safety of our volunteers and staff remains our highest priority. BCD Travel has assured us they will help navigate any challenges ahead. 

    You can access more information on the grounding of aircraft by visiting the Federal Aviation Agency and European  Union Aviation Safety Agency websites, and individual airline websites. 

    If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Simki Gopaldas at 404-417-5938 or

  • ACS CAN statement on appointment of Ned Sharpless, MD, as acting FDA commissioner

    Sharpless will be replaced in his current role as NCI director by Doug Lowy, MD

    The White House has announced its intention to appoint Ned Sharpless, MD (pictured here), current director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), as acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Doug Lowy, MD, current deputy director at NCI, will take over as acting director.

    Following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):  

    “Dr. Sharpless has demonstrated extraordinary leadership at NCI and has been a strong ally in the fight against cancer. While his vision and direct engagement with the cancer community will be sorely missed at NCI, Dr. Sharpless is well-positioned to lead the FDA forward along with Secretary Azar.

    “With his exceptional perspective and experience in cancer research, Dr. Sharpless will be able to continue FDA’s work prioritizing the review and approval of innovative therapies that have the potential to cure diseases like cancer. It will also be vital that Dr. Sharpless advance and implement policies previously endorsed by outgoing-Commissioner Gottlieb aimed at curtailing the soaring rates of youth tobacco use, especially e-cigarettes.

    “We are also pleased to hear about the appointment of Dr. Doug Lowy as acting director of NCI. Dr. Lowy has been a longtime champion of cancer issues as he returns to head the institute once again.

     “ACS CAN looks forward to working with both Dr. Sharpless and Dr. Lowy in their new roles.”

  • ACS CAN: FDA needs to take stronger steps to address youth e-cigarette epidemic

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance this morning outlining steps it will take to address the public health crisis that has resulted from surging rates of youth use of tobacco products, a trend being largely driven by access to and use of flavored e-cigarettes. 

    While the draft guidance does include some restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, a major contributing factor to the popularity of the products among youth, it falls far short of the agency's statutory obligations under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009.

    The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

    "While we appreciate Commissioner Gottlieb and the administration's recent efforts to shine a light on the public health epidemic that is resulting from youth use of tobacco products, the guidance released by FDA today falls far short of adequately addressing this crisis. Only a full prohibition on all flavored tobacco products will help prevent new, young consumers from initiating use.

    "It is disappointing that FDA continues to stop short of fulfilling its full statutory obligations, instead relying on industry self-improvement to address the very problem the industry has created. In short, the plan unveiled today will not do nearly enough to improve the health of our nation by keeping kids off tobacco products.

    "No tobacco product defined as "new" by the Tobacco Control Act should be on the market without a premarket review order from the FDA. Yet, the vast majority of e-cigarettes that are driving the explosion of tobacco use among youth have not undergone a premarket review. It's for this reason ACS CAN and our public health partners have filed suit in federal court to compel FDA to exercise its statutory mandate and regulatory authority over all tobacco products.

    "We once again are calling on FDA to implement proposals that will reverse the alarming trend of youth use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products by prohibiting all flavors and exercising its full authority over all tobacco products. FDA must also stop relying on the tobacco industry to self-improve when their very products and actions are designed to addict a new generation of consumers to their deadly and addictive products."

  • ACS CAN: Administration budget risks reversing progress against cancer

    Medicare prescription drug proposals and e-cigarette user fee welcome changes

    The administration released its FY20 budget today including a $4.7 billion cut for medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including a nearly $900 million cut for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The budget also reduces funding by $34.5 million for important cancer screening and prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and transforms Medicaid funding into a block grant structure.

    Also included is a $50 million increase to childhood cancer research funding, a cap on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D, elimination of cost-sharing for generic drugs for some low-income Medicare beneficiaries, and a user fee to help fund the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulatory work around electronic cigarettes.

    A statement from Lisa Lacasse (pictured here), president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN, follows:


    "If passed, the proposed cut to NIH and NCI funding would squander years of renewed momentum and progress in advancing discovery in cancer and other chronic diseases.

    "These investments have long enjoyed strong bipartisan support and have led to incredible understanding in how to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer that still claims the lives of more than 600,000 Americans each year.

    "The additional $50 million dedicated to childhood cancer research, while welcome, will not be as effective as possible if overall research funding is significantly reduced. Childhood cancer research is intertwined with all of cancer research and cuts to NIH and NCI funding will consequently have deleterious effects on such research regardless of age.


    "We are deeply troubled by the proposed cuts and elimination of proven cancer prevention, screening, and early detection programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The proposed block granting of all chronic disease funding could essentially eliminate federal tobacco prevention and control programs. Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable premature death in the U.S.

    "The inclusion of a new e-cigarette manufacturer user fee to help fund FDA regulation of the electronic cigarette industry is a welcome acknowledgement of the epidemic in youth e-cigarette use. However, FDA's urgent regulatory work to address this crisis should not be dependent on the assessment of this fee.

    Access to Care

    "Capping out-of-pocket prescription costs for seniors on Medicare Part D and allowing some low-income enrollees to be spared cost-sharing on generic drugs would be welcome changes and could help enrollees better afford their care.

    "However, transforming Medicaid funding into a block grant would likely leave millions of Americans unable to access critical health services. Medicaid serves as an essential safety-net for more than 2.3 million Americans with a history of cancer, including one-third of all pediatric cancer patients at the point of diagnosis.

    "Budget realities require setting priorities. Federal funding for medical research and access to preventive and curative medical care is essential to ensuring our country can lead, innovate, and save the most lives from cancer as possible. On behalf of the more than 1.7 million Americans expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, we urge Congress to reject these cuts, raise the impending budget caps, and ensure cancer research and access to health care remains among our nation's the top priorities." 

  • Congratulations to Iowa State University Coach Steve Prohm, winner of INFINITI's Timeout for the Win challenge

    On March 17, INFINITI kicks off the Bracket Pool Challenge on to raise up to another $350,000 - for a total of $1M for Coaches vs. Cancer

    INFINITI announced this week that the winner of its Timeout for the Win, #TIMEOUTFTW, campaign is Steve Prohm, men's basketball head coach of Iowa State University. The INFINITI campaign came to life through collaborations with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), NCAA®, ESPN, and the American Cancer Society (ACS). 

    "I want to thank INFINITI for their support of cancer research with the Timeout for the Win contest and I greatly appreciate Cyclone Nation for supporting me," said Prohm. "I'm thrilled to be the winner, but most importantly thrilled to have the Iowa State University name attached to help fight cancer." Watch his video message here.

    Between Jan. 14 and March 11, 48 NCAA® Division I men's basketball coaches competed for fan votes to win the bragging rights and the highest percentage of the $1 million INFINITI will donate to Coaches vs. Cancer overall. 

    As part of INFINITI's overall $1 million contribution to our mission, INFINITI is donating $600,000 to Coaches vs. Cancer in names of the three top vote-getters:

    1. Steve Prohm - $360,000
    2. Bob Huggins, head coach of the West Virginia University Mountaineers - $150,000
    3. Buckeye's head coach Chris Holtmann of Ohio State University - $90,000

    "On behalf of the American Cancer Society, we are incredibly grateful for the support of INFINITI and celebrate Coach Prohm in his victory," said Sharon Byers, our chief development, marketing, and communications officer at ACS. "This generous donation will allow us to serve more cancer patients and their families with critical services and resources to improve and save lives from cancer."

    During the NCAA® tournament, between March 17 and March 22, INFINITI will be donating for every bracket entered into the INFINITI Bracket Pool Challenge on In partnership with CBS Sports and Turner Sports, INFINITI will raise up to $350,000 for the American Cancer Society. The remaining $50,000 will be raised through various activations during the Final Four weekend.

    Fans have a chance to win a trip for two to the 2019 Final Four, April 6-8, in Minneapolis

    Fans (excluding ACS staff) can enter the "#TIMEOUTFTW One in a Million" contest by posting a video of their best "one in a million" basketball trick shot including #TIMEOUTFTW, #INFINITIContest and tagging @INFINITIUSA by 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, March 17. The winner will receive a trip for two to the 2019 Final Four April 6-8 in Minneapolis. Read the full details and rules.

  • Dr. Len reacts to the news that Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek has stage IV pancreatic cancer

    ​Alex Trebek, 78, who has hosted the Jeopardy! game show since 1984, announced Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. You can watch his announcement here.

    In his blogLen Lichtenfeld, MD, our interim chief medical officer, wrote: ". . . We are reminded of the strength and dignity those with cancer offer to others, every day."

    He noted that "Mr. Trebek’s illness gives us the opportunity to reflect on the fact that there is much we need to learn about the early detection and treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. We do not have effective early detection tests that can be applied routinely for those who are not at exceptionally high risk of pancreatic cancer." 

    Dr. Len wrote: "The fact is, pancreatic cancer is a difficult disease to treat effectively. That is due in no small part to the fact that—as the case with Mr. Trebek—pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed at a later stage, remaining undetected until it causes difficulties and symptoms by its spread. The reality is that for most people pancreatic cancer is too advanced to be treated with surgery and is not very responsive to currently available chemotherapy and targeted therapy medications. And newer forms of treatment such as immunotherapy and CAR-T haven’t shown particular success at this point." Read his full blog post here.

    In a video announcing his illness, the Jeopardy! host said, "Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I'm going to fight this, and I'm going to keep working. And, with the love and support of my family and friends, and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease."

    Pancreatic cancer makes up just 3 percent of cancers in the U.S., and accounts for 7 percent of deaths from cancer.

    Ken Jennings, who holds the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy!, tweeted that Trebek is "in a way the last Cronkite: authoritative, reassuring TV voice you hear every night, almost to the point of ritual."

  • Help us identify what volunteer training resources are needed

    Our Volunteer Engagement Team needs your feedback about existing volunteer training resources to help them develop strategies for 2019. 

    As you know, ACS provides a variety of training resources to support a multitude of volunteer roles. Training is accessed through our Volunteer Learning Center and our National Volunteer Training Team.  

    Feedback from both volunteer and staff partners will help us enhance the training topics covered on the Volunteer Learning Center and identify volunteer leaders who can provide valuable training sessions. 

    The survey should take only a few minutes. Thanks for letting us know how we can meet your needs!

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