TUPPY Continuing Work to Prevent Youth from Starting to Smoke

(Oakton, Va., Aug. 5, 2005)  Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) will continue to educate local youth through its anti-tobacco program, with help from a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF). The Tobacco Use Prevention Program for Youth (TUPPY), which has shown dramatic positive change regarding youth and tobacco use, recently received a grant for $62,704. This is the third grant received from the foundation.

“We are very grateful for this grant and excited about the opportunity to provide tobacco use prevention education to more Northern Virginia youth. We would like to thank the foundation for continuing to support our work on this issue, and we look forward to working with administration, teachers, counselors and students in the upcoming year to help the youth of Northern Virginia stay smoke-free,” said NVFS President and CEO Mary Agee.

TUPPY began in June 2002 with a grant from VTSF. Since that time, NVFS has provided tobacco use prevention education to nearly 3,000 students. An evaluation study conducted by NVFS of the youth tobacco use for the 2004 and 2005 program years indicated a continuing need for programs such as TUPPY. The study’s results, which are comparable to those of VTSF’s Virginia Youth Tobacco Survey 2001/2003 Comparisons, indicate a considerable overall decrease in youth smoking rates. For instance, 55 percent fewer youth were smoking cigarettes and there was a decrease of more than 50 percent in the number of youth who ever tried a cigarette.

TUPPY will continue to focus on middle school youth during the upcoming year. The program uses the Get Real About Tobacco (GRAT) education-based curriculum to teach groups of young people about the harmful effects of tobacco, what makes them vulnerable to tobacco use and skills for making healthy decisions. GRAT focuses on three core elements, including helping youth to understand they are vulnerable, even if they don’t use tobacco and don’t plan to; helping youth to realize they are influenced to use tobacco by identifying the sources of influence; and becoming critical of pro-tobacco messages.

NVFS has partnered with several organizations that continue to support NVFS’ anti-tobacco efforts, including Arlington County Public Schools; Arlington County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources; Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board; Fairfax County School’s Safe and Drug Free Youth Program; and Fairfax County Public Schools’ Alternative School Program.