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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

VA Groups Aim to Reduce Youth Tobacco Use

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Friday, May 19, 2023   

Virginia groups are using different methods to warn young people about the dangers of smoking.

Along with tobacco-free parks, the state has taken things to a legislative level to prevent youth from using tobacco. In 2022, House Bill 685 aimed to prevent the sale of tobacco products to Virginians under age 21.

The bill failed in committee. But the group "Henrico Too Smart 2 Start" has taken a collaborative approach through its social media "Influence the Influencers" contest.

Terrell Pollard, board chair of the Henrico Too Smart 2 Start, described the contest's goals.

"The contest is to see what youth can earn the most 'likes' through a youth-created video about not using substances," said Pollard. "And it does two things: One, incentivizes youth to be a part of youth substance use prevention strategies, as well as flood social media with healthy, positive messages."

He said the idea stems from the increased substance-use issues that arose during the pandemic.

A 2022 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration found more than three million kids across the U.S. use tobacco products.

Going forward, Pollard said he hopes to make this an annual contest to bolster the group's mission of youth tobacco-use prevention. However, he said there will be changes made to this contest in years to come.

"Because of the collaborative nature that the videos were created, we want to move to a format where we're offering prizes to a group of students," said Pollard. "So, it could be a school club, a school itself. We wanted to encourage that collaboration."

The "Influence the Influencers" winners will be decided during the second week in June.


Disclosure: Henrico Too Smart 2 Start contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Children's Issues, Health Issues, Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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