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Research is a critical component of the Virginia Foundation for Health Youth’s strategies to reduce and prevent youth tobacco use in Virginia. Its specific interests include understanding:

·         Components of youth culture/behavior in order to inform future marketing efforts in Virginia

·         The  impact of new and/or alternative tobacco products on youth in Virginia

·         Psycho-social aspects of youth tobacco use

·         Genetic predisposition to nicotine addiction and the subsequent development of tobacco-use-related disease

·         Factors that relate to the progression of experimentation with tobacco products to nicotine addiction by youth under the age of 18

·         The types of prevention and cessation interventions that work with various demographics of youth.


VFHY is highly committed to funding only collaborative research projects for several reasons:  avoiding duplication of efforts; maximizing expertise from multidisciplinary and multipartner research among universities and other research entities; promoting collaboration and research-sharing within the scientific community; generating new investigators’ interest in tobacco prevention research; and using VFHY funding as seed money to attract additional outside funding for youth tobacco research in Virginia. This approach has been highly successful, resulting in numerous collaborative large grant proposals funded through federal agencies, including more than $20 million in matching grants.


Current Research Projects

University of Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth University
Eastern Virginia Medical School

University of Virginia

University of VirginiaCharacterization of Nicotine Vapor Intake in Adolescent Mice

Grant Award Amount: $435,766
Principal Investigator: Michael Scott, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology
Collaborating Partner: Virginia Commonwealth University

The goal of the project is to provide definitive information on how nicotine vapor exposure affects the brains and behavior of adolescent animals in order to develop ways of reducing adolescent interest in these products. To investigate how nicotine vapor affects adolescent male and female mice and how these effects compare to actions in the adult, the researchers have developed a novel nicotine vapor self- administration model for use in the mouse. While current mouse models involve the intravenous delivery of nicotine or the passive exposure to nicotine vapor, this approach allows for the animal to control delivery of flavored and unflavored nicotine vapor, more closely recapitulating human nicotine vapor exposure.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth UniversityCategorization and Effects of E-Cigarette Ads on Attitudes, Intentions and Abuse Liability in Youth

Grant Award Amount: $436,498
Principal Investigators: Andrew Barnes, Ph.D., Department of Healthcare Policy and Research & Department of Psychology
Collaborating Partner: Gillings School of Global Public Heath, University Of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Study will qualitatively categorize current electronic cigarette advertising messages into thematic categories, (e.g. themes of reduced harm compared to cigarettes, use as a cessation device, sociability, or freedom from smoking bans); experimentally evaluate the receptivity of a sample of Virginia youth, 13-18 years of age (n=1,400), to the most dominant three electronic cigarette advertising themes identified; and compare the effects of electronic cigarette message receptivity between current cigarette smokers and susceptible non-smoking youth.

Integrating Tobacco Prevention Strategies into Behavioral Parent Training for Adolescents with ADHD

Grant Award Amount: $435,862
Principal Investigators: Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development
Collaborating Partner: Chesterfield County Public Schools

This study will integrate evidence-based tobacco use prevention skills into an evidence-based behavioral training program for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). In Phase I, researchers will work with tobacco use prevention and ADHD treatment experts in a 3-day meeting to review two evidence-based treatments (Strengthening Families Program, SFP; and Supporting Teens Academic Needs Daily - Group, STAND-G) to integrate tobacco use prevention skills into STAND-G. SFP tobacco use prevention skills will be fully incorporated and taught within the context of the existing STAND-G curriculum (e.g. adolescent tobacco refusal skills, parent-child communication about tobacco) with the goal of keeping constant the number of sessions families attend. In Phase II, the study will conduct a pilot randomized-controlled trial to determine the feasibility of the implementing the STAND-G+SFP intervention, and to provide preliminary efficacy data comparing STAND-G+SFP to STAND-G alone on tobacco use outcomes.

Virginia Youth Tobacco Projects Research Coalition Core

Grant Award Amount: $435,000
Principal Investigator: J. Randy Koch, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University, Center for Center for the Study of Tobacco Products
Collaborating Partners: Eastern Virginia Medical School, The College of William & Mary, George Mason University, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, University of Virginia, Old Dominion University, Virginia State University, and Virginia Commonwealth University

The grant for the Virginia Youth Tobacco Project (VYTP) includes the coordination and planning of the annual VYTP Research Coalition meetings, the Small Grants Program, a report summarizing and integrating VFHY-sponsored research and the triennial Research to Practice Conference. VYTP also facilitates the networking of VYTP researchers across Virginia.

Eastern Virginia Medical School

Eastern Virginia Medical SchoolExamining E-Cigarette Use: Developing Effective Risk Communication Methods to Reach Virginia Youth

Grant Award Amount: $430,565
Principal Investigator: Kelli Will, Ph.D., Eastern Virginia Medical School, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Community Health and Research
Collaborating Partners: The Consortium for Infant and Child Health (CINCH) and the YMCA of South Hampton Roads

Electronic cigarettes are relatively new to the market, are not well understood, and are often marketed as a “safer” alternative to traditional combustible cigarettes. Adolescent uptake is rising, prompting concerns about the health effects and long-term consequences of using these products. Using a community-engaged research process (CEnR), the overall goal of this project is to work closely with adolescents (via formal assessment and informal discussion methods) to understand youth experiences with and perspectives on e-cigarettes and to inform development of risk-communication approaches that are perceived as relevant, motivating, and engaging.