On October 22, 2018, the Winchester City School Board voted to adopt 100% comprehensive tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policies, that will protect the more than 4,400 youth in their division from the harmful influence of tobacco. If the policies are passed they will go into effect on a later date.
The policy revisions began through a partnership with Y Street’s 24/7 campaign, Allyson Pate, Winchester City School Board Chair, and Judy McKiernan, Student Services Coordinator. The 24/7 campaign is part of Y Street, the award-winning teen volunteer program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, that partners with Virginia school divisions to help them adopt, implement, and enforce 100% comprehensive tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policies, like the one to be adopted by Winchester City Public Schools.
“The adoption of the 24/7 Tobacco policy is a reflection of the Winchester Public School Board's commitment to a healthy learning and working environment.” said Allyson Pate, School Board Chair “This revision to our existing policy will further promote our efforts to teach and model constructive behaviors to benefit our students and their families, our staff and our community.”
Upon the adoption of the revised policies, Winchester City Public Schools will become the 37th school division in Virginia recognized by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth as having a 100% comprehensive tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policy. In doing so, Winchester City Public Schools will serve as an example to other nearby divisions to do the same.
Unfortunately, nearly 20% of Virginia teens use e-cigarettes, according to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and the Virginia Department of Health. Schools are places where youth learn both inside and outside the classroom, and it’s important for Virginia’s schools to send the right message about tobacco and ecigarette use. Winchester City Public Schools’ new 100% comprehensive tobacco-free policy represents a firm commitment by the school board to help its students live tobacco-free.
If the new policies are passed it will prohibit the possession of any tobacco product by minors, provide cessation resources to staff and students, and expand the definition of tobacco products and use to include all products, including electronic devices.
Comprehensive policies support a school environment that is 100% free from tobacco products – including electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products – by prohibiting any tobacco use by students, staff, or visitors on all school property and at school-sponsored events, including those that are off-site.
To help communicate Winchester City Public Schools’ comprehensive policy to students, staff and visitors, the 24/7 campaign will provide all of the public schools in Winchester City with free signs displaying the new tobacco-free regulations and a comprehensive toolkit to support the division and its schools in implementing and enforcing the new policy.
About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY)
Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth empowers Virginia’s youth to make healthy choices by promoting active, nutritious and tobacco-free living. Since the Foundation began its work in 2001, high school smoking in Virginia has been cut by more than 60 percent and the number of middle school smokers has dropped by more than 75 percent! The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth directly reaches about 50,000 children each year through classroom-based prevention programs in public schools, afterschool programs, community centers, daycares and prevention programs across the state. VFHY’s award-winning marketing campaigns deliver prevention messaging to more than 500,000 children annually.
About Y Street and the 24/7 Campaign
Started in 2004, Y Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s teen volunteer group for high school students. Y Street youth work on obesity and tobacco-use prevention to help create a healthier Virginia. Y Street members have been invited to testify before the FDA and have worked on public health issues with top government officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Virginia’s Governor, and Virginia’s Attorney General. Since 2004, over 8,000 teens statewide have participated in Y Street. For more information, visit the Y Street website.
The 24/7 campaign is an initiative to help all schools in Virginia understand, adopt, implement, and enforce comprehensive tobacco-free policies. It is a program of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and Y Street, Virginia’s largest youth-led movement. For more information about the 24/7 Campaign, visit the 24/7 Virginia Campaign website.