Last month, student leaders at George Wythe High School celebrated and
thanked Richmond Public Schools and their building administration for keeping students, staff,
and the community healthy and safe through a comprehensive tobacco-free and e-cigarette free
Richmond Public Schools is one of only 37 of the 132 school divisions in Virginia that has
adopted comprehensive tobacco-free and e-cigarette free policies, prohibiting the use of
tobacco and e-cigarettes on campus by anyone, anywhere and anytime. While every school has
a tobacco-free policy, not all are comprehensive like the one in place at RPS. Comprehensive
policies must have key stipulations including prohibiting tobacco and e-cigarette use on school
campuses and at school-sponsored events both on- and off-site; consistent rules and
Even though cigarette use amongst youth has declined, young people continue to use electronic
smoking devices and smokeless tobacco at escalating rates each year. Earlier this month, the
FDA and U.S. Center for Disease Control released new data showing a 78% increase in e-
cigarette use U.S. high school students in 2017-18. At a time when e-cigarette use is on the rise
among high schoolers throughout the nation, students at George Wythe are thankful for the
tobacco and e-cigarette free policies at their school.
“This is important to me because I love attending a smoke-free school district that respects
everyone’s lungs and overall health,” said George Wythe student, Christopher Perla. “I choose
to participate to advocate for a clean and smoke-free environment."
The participating students are members of a group called Y Street, the Virginia Foundation for
Healthy Youth’s award-winning high school volunteer program promoting a healthy Virginia.
Their program, the 24/7 campaign, is an initiative to help all schools in Virginia understand,
adopt, implement, and enforce comprehensive tobacco-free and e-cigarette-free policies.
“Working with the students at George Wythe has been inspiring and invaluable,” said Hollie
Tillman, 24/7 Campaign Manager. “All students across the state bring their own passion and
expertise when working on these campaigns and they are amazing representatives not only of Y
Street but of Richmond City Public Schools.”
For more information about Y Street, visit https://www.ystreet.org/.