Search the Site

October 12, 2017

$500,000 grant makes CATCH My Breath program free to middle schools and high schools nationwide;
State officials in Texas and Arkansas committed to program expansion.

AUSTIN – The CATCH Global Foundation today announced that it has received a three year, $500,000 grant from CVS Health [NYSE: CVS] to bring the youth e-cigarette prevention program “CATCH My Breath” to middle schools and high schools across the country free of charge. The grant is part of CVS Health’s Be The First initiative, a five-year $50 million effort to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation through education and awareness, research and tobacco control advocacy, and health behavior programming.

“CVS Health’s purpose is helping people on their path to better health, and we believe that stopping the spread of tobacco and e-cigarette use, particularly among young people, is an important element in advancing that purpose,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility for CVS Health. “By partnering with the CATCH Global Foundation, we can accelerate our efforts to reach youth at a critical point in time when they can learn healthy behaviors, instead of harmful ones.”

After a 900 percent increase in use over the past five years, e-cigarettes have become the most commonly used tobacco product among youth and young adults. In 2016, 11.3 percent of high school students reported trying e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. CATCH My Breath is the first program specifically designed around preventing youth e-cigarette use.

The program consists of a series of classroom lessons, peer-led activities, and social and community support designed to educate kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes—most of which contain the addictive compound nicotine—and inoculate them against industry marketing tactics and social pressures to use the products.

In a 2016 pilot test of CATCH My Breath, 86 percent of students said they were less likely to try e-cigarettes as a result of the program. CATCH My Breath was developed by Steven Kelder, PhD, MPH a youth tobacco prevention expert at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. Dr. Kelder was a senior scientific editor of the 2016 Surgeon General’s report on youth use of e-cigarettes. Program development was made possible through CATCH Global Foundation’s founding partners including The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and through an Opportunity Grant from St. David’s Foundation.

CATCH My Breath is currently taught in 20 states and reaches over 30,000 kids. The three-year funding from CVS Health will expand program availability nationwide with the aim of reaching more than 200,000 kids annually, by 2020.

The CVS Health grant identifies 14 priority states for the project based on community readiness and youth usage rates. Two of these states have already pledged support for the program. The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Arkansas Department of Health, in collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Education, have selected CATCH My Breath as their preferred youth e-cigarette prevention program and have activated their networks of community health and tobacco prevention practitioners to help get schools enrolled and support delivery of the program in the 2017-2018 school year.

CATCH My Breath aligns with the priorities of our state-wide tobacco prevention efforts, and comes at a perfect time given the new Texas state law requiring e-cigarette education in schools,” said Mark Boldt of the Texas Department of State Health Services Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch.

“Health education programs help youth lead happy, healthy lives. Through programs like CATCH My Breath that focus on teaching prevention in middle and high school, educators can provide those prevention messages when they are most effective,” added Audra Walters, Coordinated School Health Director at the Arkansas Department of Education.

The other priority states outlined in the grant include: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio.

The CVS Health grant will support program staffing, implementation support, ongoing curriculum refinement, and evaluation. CATCH Global Foundation announced that Marcella Bianco, the former director of Tennessee’s statewide tobacco use and prevention efforts, has been hired as the program manager for the new grant.

The CVS Health funding will also allow CATCH Global Foundation to provide the program at no cost to schools; the program previously cost $25 per campus per year.

Schools can learn more about CATCH My Breath and sign up to implement the e-cigarette prevention program at


Media inquiries: Brooks Ballard (CATCH Global Foundation); email: [email protected]; c: (512) 294-8666

About CVS Health

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at

About Arkansas Department of Health

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is a centralized health department, operating health units in each of the state’s 75 counties.  The mission of the Department is to promote public health policies and practices that assure a healthy quality of life for Arkansas. ADH works to protect, improve and promote the health of all Arkansans with the support of dedicated employees and public and private partners. Each year, Department employees monitor and investigate public health disease and threats, provide preventive health services in clinical settings, enforce laws and regulations, support Hometown Health Improvement, promote healthy behaviors, and respond to public health emergencies.