RD116 - Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation 2007 Annual Report
As the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation continues our mission of reducing and preventing youth tobacco use, it is our ongoing challenge to keep up with the ever-changing trends of today’s teens and tweens. I am happy to report that VTSF exceeds expectations in successfully reaching Virginia youth through their own culture.
More and more young people are spending their online leisure time visiting social networking Web sites, so in 2007 VTSF launched Veeay.com, our own social networking site for Virginia youth ages 10 to 15. Named after the two letters used in the abbreviation of Virginia, Veeay contains more safety protocols than other such sites, while allowing kids to participate in the online social activities they enjoy. While contacting their school friends online, VTSF reaches out to them with helpful information about the dangers of tobacco use. Within the first four months, more than 1,500 Virginia kids created personal profiles on Veeay, and more than 250 kids showed up to a weekend Veeay launch event in Abingdon.
Veeay is just one of the many teen-friendly methods by which VTSF reaches Virginia’s young people. Also this fiscal year, VTSF launched a pilot effort aimed at reducing tobacco use and violence among urban youth. In cooperation with local community leaders and law enforcement, VTSF sponsored successful, sold-out hip-hop events called 2Up2Down in Norfolk and Richmond that encouraged youth to have fun while learning how to make smart lifestyle choices.
About 80 percent of today’s adult smokers began smoking as teens, many as early as age 12. That’s why it’s incumbent upon VTSF to stay ahead of the youth cultural curve, ensuring that today’s and tomorrow’s teens grow up to be happy, healthy adults.