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United Health Foundation Partners with Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to Help Cut Youth Smoking by 25 Percent

New partnership will support Kick Butts Day and other youth tobacco-prevention initiatives
November 15, 2011

MINNETONKA, Minn. — United Health Foundation is partnering with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to help cut the youth smoking rate 25 percent by 2015.

The partnership includes a three-year, $2.8 million grant to fund the campaign's 'For Youth By Youth' program, which will support Kick Butts Day and other initiatives to reduce youth tobacco use and educate and empower youth as leaders in the fight against tobacco.

'It is staggering that every day 1,000 kids become regular smokers, starting on a path to a lifetime of health issues including increased risks of heart disease and cancer,' said Kate Rubin, president of United Health Foundation. 'We need to do all we can to reduce youth smoking, and United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids on the 'For Youth By Youth' initiative.

'We are excited to begin this new partnership with United Health Foundation to protect America's kids from the dangers of tobacco,' said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 'This is a great opportunity to protect our nation's youth by building on the success of Kick Butts Day and empowering youth leaders across the country. Working together, we will be able to reach hundreds of thousands of young people over the next three years and help them stay healthy and tobacco-free.'

Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. On each Kick Butts Day, youth organize and participate in more than 1,000 events across the nation, encouraging their peers to stay tobacco-free and educating their communities about the dangers of tobacco. The new partnership will provide up to 50 grants for peer-to-peer programs, developed by and aimed at kids and will significantly expand the number of Kick Butts Day events, reaching more than 100,000 more youth and millions more through local events.

In addition to Kick Butts Day, the 'For Youth By Youth' program will:

  • Recruit, train and assist student anti-tobacco advocates across the nation. These youth leaders will work with their peers to help achieve the goal of reducing the high-school-student smoking rate from the current 19.5 percent to 15 percent by 2015.

  • Provide critical support to state tobacco-prevention programs and help ensure they are using the most effective strategies.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion a year in health care costs. Every day, another 1,000 kids become regular smokers 1 — one-third of them will die prematurely as a result. 2

UnitedHealth Group supports United Health Foundation's grant to Tobacco-Free Kids through its broad support of the 'Million Hearts Initiative,' a public/private partnership whose goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Million Hearts Initiative unites key stakeholders throughout the health care system in an effort to prevent the risk factors for cardiovascular disease, facilitate timely diagnosis and enhance the quality of clinical interventions, all of which will help improve the nation's health.

About Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision is a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. Tobacco-Free Kids works to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. For more information, visit http://www.tobaccofreekids.org.

About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $187 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), HHS, Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, NSDUH: Summary of National Findings.
  2. CDC, 'Projected Smoking-Related Deaths Among Youth-United States,' MMWR45(44):971-974, November 8, 1996.