Southwest Virginia Schools celebrating Tobacco Free Spirit Day

Richlands Middle School students made valentines to mark the occasion and show their appreciation for tobacco free schools.

Youth from 18 schools in Southwestern Virginia celebrate the fourth annual Tobacco-Free Spirit Day, Feb. 13 a statewide day of action to thank the 40 out of 132 Virginia school divisions that have protected their students with 100% comprehensive e-cigarette-free and tobacco-free policies.

Giles County, Carroll County, Roanoke County, Smyth County, Washington County, Dickenson County, Russell County, Tazewell County, and Grayson County are 9 of 40 school divisions with comprehensive policies in place. The event is an initiative of Y Street’s 24/7 campaign, which partners with Virginia school divisions to support them in adopting, implementing, and enforcing 100% comprehensive e-cigarette-free and tobacco-free policies.

Tobacco-Free Spirit Day is a chance for schools in divisions with comprehensive policies to

celebrate by hosting student-led events with the theme “I love my e-cigarette-free and tobacco free school division.” Students and staff at these events filled out Valentine’s cards which will

be sent to their school boards to thank them for committing to a healthy, tobacco-free school

environment.

“I’m glad to be in a division that supports Tobacco-Free Spirit Day because it allows my peers

and I to celebrate a safe and healthy lifestyle at school. Tobacco-Free Spirit Day also provides

the opportunity to communicate our 24/7 Tobacco-free policy to everyone in a positive and fun

way,” said Ruth Brown, a sophomore at Giles High School and member of Y Street.

The 24/7 campaign’s model 100% comprehensive policy covers all nicotine-containing devices

and vapor devices, including current products on the market that may be attractive to youth.

This includes products such as JUUL, as well as potential future devices that may come on the

market. From 2017 to 2018, vaping among teens in the U.S. spiked dramatically, with 3.6 million

middle and high school students reporting that they currently use e-cigarettes.

Youth members of Y Street, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s award-winning teen

volunteer program, began advocating for 100% comprehensive school division policies in 2014.

Street youth efforts have led to 34.3% of Virginia’s student population in 40 school divisions

being protected by these policies.

“Tobacco-Free Spirit Day is a great way to remind students of the dangers they face if they

choose a life using tobacco. It helps us to encourage a 24/7 tobacco -free lifestyle, but also

helps to encourage students to take that message home and encourage others as well,” Kristin

Carter of Northwood Middle School.

The schools participating in Tobacco-Free Spirit Day in southwestern Virginia are: Giles

and Narrows High Schools in Giles County; Ridgeview High School in Dickenson County;

Carroll County High School in Carroll County; Fries School, Grayson Highlands, Independence

Middle School in Grayson County; Northside High School in Roanoke County; Castlewood High

School in Russell County; E.B. Stanley Middle School and Holston High School in Washington

County; Tazewell, Richlands, and Graham Middle Schools in Tazewell County; Chilhowie and

Northwood High Schools, Marion, Chilhowie and Northwood Middle Schools in Smyth County.

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