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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Launch New Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use

American Cancer Society, American Heart Association Are Key Partners
April 11, 2013

PRINCETON, NJ, and WASHINGTON, DC, April 11, 2013 – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids today announced an ambitious, three-year collaboration to accelerate progress in reducing tobacco use, the nation's leading cause of preventable death.

This new initiative comes as the United States nears the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report on tobacco, which was issued on Jan. 11, 1964, and alerted the nation to the deadly consequences of smoking. The initiative will build on the tremendous progress that has been made in reducing tobacco use and is aimed at winning the fight against a tobacco epidemic that still kills 443,000 Americans and costs the nation nearly $100 billion in health care expenditures each year.

RWJF has made an $8 million grant to Tobacco-Free Kids – initial funding to support an advocacy initiative focused on changing local, state and federal policies to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect all Americans from secondhand smoke. The initiative builds on RWJF's longstanding commitment to reducing tobacco use and Tobacco-Free Kids' extensive advocacy capacity and experience.

As part of this initiative, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association will each provide an additional $1 million to support state and local efforts to reduce tobacco use. These contributions will be matched with a portion of the new funds from RWJF.

The U.S. has made dramatic progress in reducing smoking. While 42.4 percent of U.S. adults smoked in 1965, only 19 percent did so in 2011 – a 55 percent decline. Smoking among high school students has been cut in half since 1997, from 36.4 percent to 18.1 percent who smoke.

Despite this progress, about 44 million adults and 3.6 million children and adolescents still smoke. Nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day – one-third of them will die prematurely as a result.

'Smoking rates are still unacceptably high,' said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, RWJF president and CEO. 'We know that if we make the places where we live smoke-free, it improves health and reduces health care costs. I'm confident that this collaboration will prevent more young people from starting to smoke and help create a culture of health in our communities.'

'We know how to win the fight against tobacco, and this initiative will provide critical resources to help us do so. It will also support efforts to remind all Americans, including policy makers, that tobacco remains the nation's number one cause of preventable death,' said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 'We're excited to work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Cancer Society and American Heart Association and hope this initiative will attract new partners to help us create a tobacco-free future for all kids.'

This initiative will focus on implementing evidence-based measures that reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Priorities include:

  • Increasing the price of tobacco products through higher tobacco taxes
  • Implementing smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places
  • Funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit
  • Helping smokers quit by providing insurance coverage for and access to evidence-based tobacco cessation treatments
  • Implementing effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing by the Food and Drug Administration
  • Developing innovative strategies and new collaborations to accelerate progress.

View and download an infographic about the nation's progress in reducing smoking and the challenges that remain.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter and Facebook.

About the 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: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. Learn more at