Tobacco-free for five years

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Five years ago, we made the bold decision to eliminate tobacco products from all of our CVS Pharmacy stores nationwide, and we’re still the only national pharmacy to do so.

Not only did our decision lead to 100 million fewer packs of cigarettes being sold in the first year since their removal, but we also took our efforts beyond our stores, helping 228 colleges and universities become tobacco free over the past five years and committing $50 million to deliver the first tobacco-free generation through our Be The First initiative.

And with the significant rise in teen e-cigarette use, we’re now working to combat vaping, too, including a $10 million commitment in 2019 to support youth smoking and e-cigarette prevention strategies and education in partnership with Discovery Education and CATCH Global Foundation, and our pledge earlier this year not to work with advertising or public relations agencies who work with tobacco and e-cigarette companies.

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In 2014, we quit tobacco.

Nearly 65%

of Americans agree that our decision to stop selling tobacco reduces the risk of chronic diseaseStatistics from an August 2019 Morning Consult poll of 2,200 adults

62%

of adults agree that retailers have an obligation to limit access to tobacco and e-cigarette productsStatistics from an August 2019 Morning Consult poll of 2,200 adults

81%

of adults support improving community education about the dangers of smokingStatistics from an August 2019 Morning Consult poll of 2,200 adults

Beyond tobacco: Taking steps to transform health care

But our decision to eliminate tobacco was just the start. As a health care company now combined with Aetna, we’re taking even bolder steps to transform the consumer health care experience and help lead our customers, patients and the communities we serve on a path to better health.

On our shelves, customers now have access to more health-focused products and services than ever before. And we recently became the first and only national retailer to require that all vitamins and supplements undergo third-party testing to confirm they meet our high standards.

We’re also removing chemicals like parabens and phthalates from our store brand products and we took SPF less than 15 off our shelves.

At the local level, we’re building healthier communities with a $100 million investment in health and wellness, which includes programs aimed at helping people manage the most prevalent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Moving into 2020, we will expand our focus on tobacco cessation and prevention, particularly within the Medicaid program where smoking rates are considerably higher than among all adults. We’ll be working with Aetna Better Health managed Medicaid plans and together with CVS Caremark clients interested in creating or expanding smoking cession efforts for their Medicaid members.

At CVS Health, we know that health is a personal journey. And from tobacco removal to our many other health-focused services and offerings, we’re committed to navigating that journey hand-in-hand with our customers and patients to ensure that the future of care is one in which everyone can achieve their best health.

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Branches in Miami supports students and their families amid COVID-19

Branches in Miami supports students and their families amid COVID-19
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The coronavirus has touched all of our lives in one way or another. Children, in particular, are in an ongoing state of flux. Many classes in schools and colleges across the country have been upended. We did find an oasis in South Florida where an organization called Branches has been working diligently for over 25 years to serve the neighborhood’s youth and their families.

For the podcast (below) we spoke with executive director Brent McLaughlin and Kim Torres, Director of Student Services, and Branches partner Rosa Santiago — as well as students Kelson Baptiste, Vicshonda “Vicky” Bellany, and Melvin Amaya.

Aetna Better Health®, a Medicaid managed care plan in Florida, has a long-standing relationship with Branches as a community partner.

Tune in and subscribe to our podcast

Listen to Healthy Communities News on the go using your favorite podcast platform.

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A tutor with the Branches organization of Miami, Florida, assists a young male student with a school assignment on a laptop computer.
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Truth Initiative

Logo of the Truth Initiative

CVS Health and Truth Initiative® have partnered to help end smoking and tobacco use at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and community colleges across the country with the goal of increasing the number of 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campuses.https://truthinitiative.org/news/truth-initiative-and-cvs-health-launch-program-make-hbcus-and-community-colleges-tobacco-free

The “truth × CVS Health Foundation” tobacco-free campus initiative is part of CVS Health’s Be The First campaign, the company’s five year, $50 million commitment to helping deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation. CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation have set actionable and measurable goals for Be The First, including a doubling of the number of tobacco-free educational institutions in the United States.

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Support for ending tobacco use on campus

8 in 10

College students approve of policies that prohibit tobacco use on campus

Keeping campuses smoke- and tobacco-free

While smoking rates among youth and young adults have fallen in recent decades, tobacco use remains a significant public health concern. Fewer than one-half of all HBCUs and fewer than one-third of all community colleges have 100 percent smoke-free policies in place.Based on the Smokefree and Tobacco-Free U.S. and Tribal Colleges and Universities list the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation published on April 3, 2017.

Statistics show that nearly all smokers — 99 percent — begin using tobacco before age 27.https://truthinitiative.org/news/smoke-screens-tobacco-use-youth-rated-movies-still-problemhttps://truthinitiative.org/news/smoke-screens-tobacco-use-youth-rated-movies-still-problemhttps://truthinitiative.org/news/smoke-screens-tobacco-use-youth-rated-movies-still-problem We believe strongly that colleges and universities can help to prevent students from develop a lifelong and potentially life-threatening habit by adopting tobacco-free campus policies.

The Truth Initiative hosts awareness events on campuses and employs several community outreach managers responsible for connecting with schools across the country. Through support from the CVS Health Foundation, the Truth Initiative has provided funding to 106 grantees, including 42 HBCUs and 64 community colleges. At the end of 2017, a total of 61 colleges, including 18 HBCU grantees and 43 community college grantees, had successfully adopted 100 percent smoke- or tobacco-free policies.

Visit the Truth Initiative’s website to learn more.

National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics

Logo of the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics

We believe that we are uniquely positioned to address some of the health challenges communities across the U.S. face. To do so, the CVS Health Foundation has partnered with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics (NAFC) on a multi-year program, with grants awarded to free and charitable clinics nationwide to increase access to care, improve health outcomes and lower overall health care costs across the country in innovative and strategic ways. Since launching the partnership with NAFC, the CVS Health Foundation has delivered a total of more than $4.5 million in funding to free and charitable clinics across the country.


Increased access to care

Grants awarded in partnership with the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics have allowed grantees to increase operating hours and the number of patient visits, resulting in a decrease in the number of emergency room visits and improved patient compliance.

Our partnership with NAFC enables us to better identify and support free and charitable clinics that help to improve outcomes among patients with chronic conditions by offering a wide range of coordinated services, including screening, fitness classes, case management, and health education. Patients who benefit from these services are typically uninsured, underinsured, or otherwise unable to access a variety of health care services.

Learn more about how the Free and Charitable Clinics will be utilizing their grants to improve community health.

National Association of Community Health Centers

Logo of the National Association of Community Health Centers

At CVS Health, our purpose of helping people on their path to better health guides everything that we do. We are committed to providing our patients, customers, clients and the communities they serve with the resources they need to achieve this. In 2012, the CVS Health Foundation launched a partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) on a multi-year program to award grants in support of the development of innovative, community-based programs that expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved populations and expand the focus on chronic disease and prescription drug abuse management and prevention. Since launching the partnership with NACHC, the CVS Health Foundation has delivered more than $5 million in funding to community health centers across the United States.


Combating opioid abuse in underserved communities

To address the growing public health change of opioid misuse and abuse, the CVS Health Foundation also turned to NACHC to help tackle the problem. Community health centers have a unique opportunity to address the opioid crisis and support drug abuse for patients in their communities. Through this partnership, grant opportunities are made available to community health centers that have established or plan to establish community-based care model for screening, identifying, engaging, and coordinating care for patients inappropriately using prescription medications and other substances. In addition to funding, grant recipients also receive access to free training, technical assistance, and coaching services, as well as the opportunity to tap into the collaborative power of health center teams and behavioral health integration experts.

Additionally, the CVS Health Foundation and NACHC convened a panel of experts to develop a protocol of best practices for community health centers on provider prescribing guidelines, medication-assisted treatment, behavioral health, and collaboration with other community organizations to treat and prevent prescription drug abuse among at-risk patients. These guidelines serve as a resource for community health centers receiving grants from this partnership to provide treatment for opioid addiction.

Learn more about how the National Association of Community Health Centers will be utilizing their grants.

A community health center fights back against opioid abuse

A CVS Health Foundation grant is helping the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center enhance their opioid abuse treatment programs.

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2017 and 2018 NACHC Community Health Grant recipients

Grant funding from the CVS Health Foundation helps the clinics serve those in need in their local communities.

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American Heart Association

Logo of the American Heart Association

Go Red for Women®

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women. That’s why CVS Health is proud to be the national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement to empower women to take charge of their heart health. We’re encouraging people across the country to make a donation to support heart health research and education. Donate today.

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Know your numbers

Five personal health numbers can help patients determine their risk for heart disease: total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index. The tests to determine these numbers are simple, and the results provide patients with the information they need to take steps toward improving their health, especially their cardiovascular health.


Local and affordable access to screenings

MinuteClinic is a local and affordable community health resource for your heart health needs all year long. No appointment is necessary, and 50% of Americans live within 10 miles of a MinuteClinic. Find a MinuteClinic near you.

In celebration of American Heart Month you can make a date with your heart and get a no-cost heart health screening at MinuteClinic® during select Thursdays in February (February 6, February 13 and February 20).

A pictogram representing a stethoscope.

Get a no-cost health screening

In celebration of American Heart Month, get a no-cost heart health screening at MinuteClinic® during select Thursdays in February.

Download the voucher

Seven tips from the American Heart Association to reduce risk for heart disease

Learn simple ways to help your heart stay healthy and reduce your risk.

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Five numbers predict heart disease risk

As the national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Movement, CVS Health and MinuteClinic are reminding patients of the importance of “knowing their numbers” for heart health.

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Our opioid response: Public policy

A pharmacy shelf displaying boxes of naloxone nasal spray.

As a leading stakeholder in health care, CVS Health works with advocacy organizations and elected leaders to recommend new and enhanced policies that will help address opioid misuse and abuse.  

Through this advocacy work, we’ve also been able to offer access to naloxone, the lifesaving opioid overdose-reversal drug, by establishing a standing order or similar protocol at CVS Pharmacy locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This protocol allows patients to obtain naloxone at the pharmacy counter without having to first obtain an individual prescription from a physician.

Additional public policy action we’ve taken includes:

  • CVS Health spearheaded a 2017 joint industry letter to the Trump Administration and key members of Congress. The letter recognized the need for pharmacy care providers to come together to address the opioid epidemic and highlighted the steps companies in the industry have taken, as well as our shared commitment to a public-private partnership to help solve the national health care crisis of opioid abuse.

  • Restrictions on the initial quantity of an opioid that can be prescribed. CVS Health has supported legislation in states around the country that restricts the initial quantity of an opioid that can be prescribed.

  • Support for legislation mandating the electronic transmission of prescriptions. We believe this would reduce the likelihood of diversion through forged or fraudulent hard copy prescriptions.

  • Support for a national prescription drug monitoring program. We believe this would harmonize state requirements and more easily allow states to share data, which could prevent provider shopping across state lines. It would also set uniform expectations for health care providers and law enforcement.

Kicking off our commitment to address racial inequality

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Since announcing the company’s commitment to invest nearly $600 million over five years to address racial inequality, CVS Health has been focused on ways to further advance employee, community and public policy initiatives that address inequality faced by the Black community and other disenfranchised communities.

Because studies have shown that your zip code can have as much impact on your health as your genetic code, CVS Health is focusing on social determinants of health in Black and at-risk communities. Increasing access to housing and health care to assure all Americans, especially to those that are more at-risk, is imperative to improve health outcomes.

Most recently, the company kicked-off of this commitment with a $13.7 million investment to help renovate 230 low-income housing units at the Rosewind apartments in Columbus, Ohio. These funds will also be used to make significant improvements to the local community center and support new community programs in the area.

This investment builds on the company’s longstanding commitment to diversity, including social determinants of health, with a particular emphasis on increasing access to affordable housing, which is inextricably linked to health. Access to health care, housing and healthy food can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart.

Within the Rosewind complex in the South Linden neighborhood of Columbus, 95% of residents are Black and have an average annual household income of less than $17,000.  Average life expectancy in South Linden is just under 70 years – more than seven years shorter than the average in all of Franklin County, which includes Columbus and certain neighboring communities. And there are 25.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in South Linden compared to the 8.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Franklin County.

The renovations, as well as new community programming funded by CVS Health, will provide comprehensive local support to residents, including the following new on-site programs Health and Wellness programming, on-site health screenings and COVID-19 testing, an educational cooking series, community programs and maternal programs.

In addition, CVS Health will also establish a new program at Rosewind as part of its ongoing workforce initiatives to provide employment services and training to the community. These workforce development programs will focus on incorporating empowerment programs and build local partnerships that will help community members achieve meaningful employment opportunities.

Since 1997, CVS Health and Aetna, a CVS Health company, have invested more than $1 billion in affordable housing and community initiatives. In 2019, the company invested $67 million in affordable housing across the country, and the company plans to exceed that amount over the next five years to help address housing insecurities and promote community health improvement. Investments in affordable housing, as well as collaborations with community groups in these areas, help provide support to those who need it most.

Brick apartment building in the Rosewind community in Columbus, Ohio.
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Meeting the nutritional needs of a Midwestern community

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Harvesters The Community Food Network has served 26 counties in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas for over 40 years by providing food and household products to more than 760 local partners, including food pantries, shelters, and community kitchens. As the impact of COVID-19 began to ripple across the country, they knew they were going to face unprecedented and unpredictable needs. As food donations decreased, food costs increased, and volunteers sheltered at home, they prepared to take action to ensure they continued to reach their community. Support from organizations like CVS Health, who provided a $20,000 grant to support their food distribution efforts, would prove critical.

As the pandemic set in, their nonprofit partners reported need increasing by 30 to 40 percent. In March and April, they distributed over 8.7 million pounds of food — an increase of 2.2 million pounds from the same time last year. And with supply chain challenges and reduced community donations, they found the cost to provide meals increased 300 percent. In response to these needs, Harvesters increased their distributions, including more mobile distributions, such as two “mega mobile” distributions that served over 16,000 people. And support from organizations like CVS Health filled the gap in food need: our donation provided 20,000 meals.

Within the community, their response has been welcomed. “It’s just been helpful having a variety of nutritious food and a clean and safe place to pick it up… I’m usually on the other side — giving,” said one client. “They’re so respectful here. They help you maintain your dignity.” We’re proud to support Harvesters and the quick response that allowed them to help this client, and thousands of others like her, get the food they needed throughout a difficult time.

Woman holding a wooden basket of fresh produce filled to the top.
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Providing access to food in Boston

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While the City of Boston has created food access points to help address food insecurity caused by COVID-19, for many in the city, limited mobility or lack of transportation means that these resources are still out of reach. Boston Medical Center recognized that for their most medically fragile patients, alternatives would be necessary to ensure they received nutritious food appropriate for their specific dietary needs. With support from CVS Health, they developed a COVID-19 Emergency Social Services Fund to help support this vulnerable population.

One family helped by this program were connected with the fund after both parents were admitted to Boston Medical Center for inpatient COVID-19 care, leaving their oldest son, just a teenager, to take care of his younger siblings as they quarantined at home. Unable to leave the house, they were in dire need of food. A volunteer was able to work quickly with food pantry staff to pack a box of food for delivery and bring it to the family’s home. Since the volunteer couldn’t hand the box directly to the family, to ensure they received it safely, she instead left it on their doorstep and waited in her car while they collected it.

Funding from CVS Health allowed Boston Medical Center to provide no-cost meals to over 2,000 low-income individuals, many of whom are hourly wage earners without paid sick leave or who are unable to work due to the pandemic. All told, the program has distributed 17,000 meals so far, providing support and security to families in need.

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