MD Anderson Cancer Center, First Tee team up to educate students nationwide on dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes

Initiative kicks off at TOUR Championship with Tony Finau and the “Too Cool to Smoke” pledge

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the official cancer center of the PGA TOUR, will attend the TOUR Championship for the fifth year, this time launching a joint initiative with First Tee. The collaboration highlights MD Anderson's efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco use and the risks of using e-cigarettes with First Tee's values-based programs that encourage young people to build confidence and good judgment.

MD Anderson and First Tee have committed to give all 150 chapters of the First Tee the opportunity to share MD Anderson's “Too Cool to Smoke” pledge, as a promise to make healthy lifestyle choices and not use tobacco or e-cigarettes, with its participants by the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Participants from First Tee of Metro Atlanta will be the first to take the pledge at the “Too Cool to Smoke” event located at the MD Anderson tent in the SO Cool Zone at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta on Aug. 21 from 4-5 p.m. Southern Company, First Tee’s education patron, also will take part in the festivities, hosting a scavenger hunt throughout the day for more than 150 students of Drew Charter School.

The “Too Cool to Smoke” event will include an educational component hosted by Jennifer Cofer, director of the EndTobacco program at MD Anderson. PGA TOUR player Tony Finau will read the “Too Cool to Smoke” pledge to students, who will sign the pledge and receive a golf towel.

“Having four children of my own makes all of this very personal to me," said Finau. "Instilling core values, teaching the importance of using good judgment and introducing healthy lifestyle behaviors are all keys to winning with kids on and off the course.”

Up to 50% of all cancer cases in the United States can be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviors, and tobacco use is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the nation. With e-cigarette usage on the rise among middle and high school students, MD Anderson hopes introducing the “Too Cool to Smoke” pledge to kids at the tournament will raise awareness of the benefits of living a tobacco-free life. Fans can stop by the MD Anderson tent in the SO Cool Zone on No. 15 Green from Aug. 21 through Aug. 25 to sign the pledge and receive a gift.

“Tobacco use accounts for up to 30% of all cancer-related deaths and 20% of all deaths in the U.S.,” said Cofer. “We are extremely passionate about educating youth on the importance of avoiding tobacco and e-cigarettes. A  leading youth development organization, First Tee provides a platform to educate thousands of students about making healthy choices when it comes to tobacco and e-cigarette usage, in addition to sun safety. This initiative will strengthen both institutions efforts to successfully raise awareness of cancer prevention methods among young golfers.”

MD Anderson’s EndTobacco program aims to reduce smoking in youths, reduce the proportion of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke and increase counseling and smoking cessation attempts among current smokers.

“With nearly 150,000 participants across more than 1,200 chapter program locations in the United States and beyond, First Tee has made it our mission to instill values and leadership skills that help our participants prepare for a healthy and positive future,” said Greg McLaughlin, president of First Tee. “This initiative is close to our hearts, and it makes sense to collaborate with MD Anderson to get the message out to youth by giving our participants the opportunity to take the ‘Too Cool to Smoke’ pledge as it’s a natural extension of our values.”

In addition to raising awareness of the importance of cancer prevention to fans and educating spectators on the importance of sun safety, MD Anderson will debut a revamped activation at TOUR Championship located in the SO Cool Zone near No. 15 Green. The updated activation space will feature a strike-through-cancer putting challenge and photobooth for fans to take a complimentary photo home from the tournament. For fans looking to escape the sun, while still enjoying all the golf action, MD Anderson is once again offering complimentary shaded seating on No. 15 Green and complimentary SPF 45 DRIVE sunscreen throughout the course.

For more information on MD Anderson and the PGA TOUR, visit