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86% of Virginians think flavored tobacco products are more appealing to youth than regular tobacco products

April 10, 2014

For Immediate Release                                                                    

April 10, 2014                        

Media Contact: Richard Foster, (804) 225-3947                                                               

Statewide survey examines the appeal, knowledge and usage of tobacco products

RICHMOND– The results of a new statewide survey of more than 6,000 Virginia residents found that 86 percent of respondents think flavored tobacco products are more appealing to young people than regular tobacco products. According to the survey, 69% of respondents supported extending the current federal ban on flavored cigarettes to other flavored tobacco products. The survey results were presented at the national Reduce Tobacco Use conference, held April 10 and 11 and co-hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) in Arlington.

Y Street, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s award-winning teen volunteer group for high school students, collected the public opinion survey from people in 142 cities across Virginia as part of their (dis)tasteful campaign to assess what Virginians think about the appeal of flavored tobacco products and what they know about the products’ health effects.

“The members of Y Street have once again proven that youth can play an important role in educating the members of their community, and in advocating for positive social change,” said Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) Director of Marketing Danny Saggese.

Speakers at the national Reduce Tobacco Use Conference included the acting U.S. Surgeon General, Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, Virginia state Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel and the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller.

Additional findings from the Y Street survey included:

  • Youth overwhelmingly reported they were more likely to try flavored tobacco products than non-flavored tobacco products.
  • Youth overwhelmingly reported they were more likely to try flavored tobacco products than non-flavored tobacco products.
  • Eighty-three percent of youth were more likely to try a flavored cigarillo than a non-flavored cigarillo, 82 percent were more likely to try a flavored cigar than a non-flavored cigar, and 84 percent were more likely to try a flavored chew product than a non-flavored chew product.
  • Twenty-four percent of current youth tobacco users and 25 percent of adult tobacco users think that flavored tobacco is probably or definitely safer than regular tobacco.
  • Twenty-two percent of youth tobacco users and 22 percent of adult tobacco users think that cigars and cigarillos are less harmful than cigarettes. Forty-two percent of youth tobacco users think that hookah is less harmful than cigarettes.

Natalie Musfer, a Y Street member from James Madison High School in Vienna, dedicated time to collecting surveys as part of (dis)tasteful because “flavored tobacco is just as bad as any other tobacco,” she says. “Adding a flavor to it doesn’t make it any better; it makes it more appealing to little kids and inspires them to use it. Thanks to the (dis)tasteful campaign, at least more people will be informed about just how harmful it is and that can make a difference.”

In conjunction with the report release, Y Street and VFHY are also releasing a video to help spread awareness about the dangers of flavored tobacco. The video features Y Street activists discussing flavored tobacco, its appeal to youth and its dangerous health effects. The video can be found at distastefulVA.com.

 

About the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth:

Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth is responsible for statewide efforts to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use and childhood obesity. Since the Foundation began its work in 2001, high school smoking in Virginia has been cut more than in half and the number of middle school smokers has dropped more than 70 percent!

The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth directly reaches about 50,000 children each year through classroom-based prevention programs in public schools, after-school programs, community centers, daycares and other youth centers across the state. VFHY’s award-winning marketing campaign delivers prevention messages to more than 450,000 children annually through TV and radio ads and Internet content.

For more information about the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, please visit our website at https://www.vfhy.org/.

 

About Y Street

Y Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s award-winning youth-led volunteer program with a mission to increase public awareness and knowledge of two critical health issues: obesity and tobacco. To date, more than 6,500 teens have participated in Y Street across Virginia. Y Street members have presented data from their health surveys to top government officials, including the U.S. Surgeon General, the Food and Drug Administration and Virginia’s governor, attorney general and state secretary of Health and Human Resources.

 

About Rescue Social Change Group

Rescue Social Change Group manages Y Street and is a for-profit behavior change marketing agency providing services in marketing, research, policy change, and strategic planning to execute behavior change efforts nationwide. Clients include local, state, and federal government organizations as well as not-for-profits, schools, and foundations mainly addressing tobacco use, with growing services in violence, binge drinking and obesity prevention.

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