RD213 - Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth 2019 Annual Report
It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was reached. The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) continues to tackle the two leading causes of preventable death: tobacco use and obesity, as well as substance use.
VFHY has been working relentlessly on reducing youth tobacco use and has seen positive results. Since 2001, middle school smoking rates in Virginia have declined from 10.6% to 2.4% and high school smoking rates have declined 28.6% to 6.5%. It is estimated that our work contributes to preventing over 118,000 of Virginia’s youth from smoking each year.
Unfortunately, kids in Virginia are not immune to the ongoing youth e-cigarette/vaping epidemic. These e-cigarettes are often used to vape liquid that contains nicotine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns the public of the dangers of nicotine because it is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. We recognize this new threat to public health and have acted immediately to begin educating kids and their families about the health risks associated with e-cigarette use.
In 2019 we launched a multi-media campaign that corrected misperceptions about the safety of e-cigarettes/vaping products and educated about the harmful chemicals that are in them. This campaign effectively reached more than 530,000 Virginia youth ages 13-18. We also worked in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Education in creating Nicotine Products Prevention Modules for K-12 students to educate kids about the dangers of these latest nicotine products. These free lesson plans are available on our website in English and Spanish.
A lot has changed in 20 years since the MSA was reached, but we still have more prevention work to do. Every year we see new tobacco products brought to the marketplace and with them comes the risk of creating new generations of kids addicted to tobacco and nicotine products.
/s/ Marty H. Kilgore