We recently updated our mission statement to the following:

We empower communities to become healthier places for all.

Our mission for the past ten years has guided us to support our partners as they work to improve the health of their communities. We know that the places where people live, work, learn, and play greatly impact our health. Our work has always focused on addressing place-based public health issues that disproportionately affect marginalized communities.

Equity for all has become even more critical in how we define ourselves and our work. We recognize that not every individual or community has equal access to healthy spaces and opportunities. Structural elements – including both governmental and organizational policies and practices – historically have and continue to disadvantage certain racial groups through institutional racism. These structural elements, along with industry targeting, impact exposure, availability, and access to both healthy and harmful products.

For example, we know that historical and ongoing policies and practices like redlining have created neighborhood segregation, which has in turn allowed the tobacco industry to easily target already underserved communities with marketing for harmful products.

We define health equity to mean that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as they can be, which means reducing and removing structural barriers and obstacles that apply to and extend beyond the retail environment.

To guide our efforts in making changes both internally and externally, we released a stance that defines how we approach equity, diversity, and inclusion. Internally, we have made operational changes to continue to learn, hold ourselves accountable, and actively work to address the implicit biases and structural racism that make up our world. We continually work to empower and equip our partners with the resources, knowledge and understanding necessary to combat racism, health disparities, and inequality in their communities.

Adding the words “for all” to our mission reflects our ongoing commitment to health equity and inclusion. It also signifies how important it is to us to be an active participant in the larger conversation about racism, other systems of inequality, and their intersectionalities. We thank our partners for continually inspiring us with innovative examples of how to create more equitable communities and working with us towards this goal.