NEW YORK CITY — In a move that is squarely in line with CVS Caremark’s continued commitment to healthy living and its bold move to pull tobacco products from its stores, the pharmacy retailer has signed on as the national presenting sponsor of Lung Force, a national public heath initiative to fight lung cancer in women.
On Tuesday, CVS Caremark teamed up with American Lung Association to unveil Lung Force to make lung cancer in women a public health priority, drive policy change and increase research funding.
“On Feb. 5, we made a very big announcement that we were going to get rid of all tobacco products across our 7,600 CVS pharmacy stores. We are so proud to be the first national pharmacy chain to make this move and I can’t tell you how much it has unleashed an emotion. … Our purpose is helping people on their path to better health. So, as we thought about this decision and we thought about this purpose, clearly the sales of cigarettes was quite inconsistent with that purpose,” Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy, told attendees at the launch event Tuesday in New York City.
Foulkes added, “Now, we are focused on what we can do to help people live tobacco-free lives [and] raising awareness about tobacco-related illnesses and that is why we are so proud to be the presenting sponsor for American Lung Association’s Lung Force.”
She noted that about 5 million people shop CVS/pharmacy stores each day and 80% of them are women.
As the sponsor of the Lung Force, CVS/pharmacy will be working to spread the word of the women-focused initiative and will launch an in-store fundraising effort that will run from June 1 to June 29, giving shoppers the opportunity to donate to Lung Force.
“For us, the exciting part of this being involved in a fundraising efforts that can really make a difference because you have to believe that five or 10 years from now we will be making great strides in medicine. And the other part of it that I’ve learned is just how much more we can all do to educate women and essentially get many more people screened for lung cancer,” Foulkes told Drug Store News after the launch event.
In the coming weeks, CVS/pharmacy will work to further awareness of lung cancer in women through the unveiling of patient education programs and social media efforts.
With regard to MinuteClinic and the role that it can play in the initiative, Foulkes told Drug Store News, “It will be a very big part of our smoking cessation efforts because a nurse practitioner can take someone through a series of questions. And part of it too is the ongoing counseling that you can get. The most effective way that someone really quits smoking is they have face-to-face counseling combined with some form of a product, either pharmacy or over-the-counter along with other tools that allow them to remind themselves why they are quitting. If you can marry all of those forces you can really be much more effective in helping people stop smoking. So pharmacists and nurses play a big role in that.”
As previously reported by Drug Store News, CVS/pharmacy will launch a robust national smoking cessation program, which is slated to debut this fall.
Also attending Tuesday’s launch event was actress Valerie Harper, who was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2009, and country music star Kellie Pickler, who lost her grandmother to lung cancer just one day after she was diagnosed.
As part of the launch of Lung Force and the inaugural Lung Force Turquoise Takeover during National Women’s Lung Health Week (May 11 to 17), more than 90 landmarks, including Niagara Falls, will turn turquoise in support of the women’s lung health movement. At the same time, government officials will issue more than 50 proclamations.
Despite being the No. 1 cancer killer of women, the Lung Association’s inaugural Women’s Lung Health Barometer, a survey of more than 1,000 American adult women, found that only 1% cited lung cancer as a cancer that is top-of-mind for them. More than 108,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and, on average, less than half will be alive next year.