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
“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.