Reduce Tobacco Use 2016

August 17, 2015   

Prevention Connections and the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth are pleased to invite you to the 12th national Reduce Tobacco Use conference to be held April 25-26, 2016.

The national Reduce Tobacco Use Conference will showcase the latest in tobacco-use prevention, reduction, and cessation with youth and young adults. Plan to attend and network with colleagues from around the country at the beautiful Crystal Gateway Marriott, just minutes from Washington, D.C. Come and hear experts present effective strategies for addressing tobacco use with our young people today.

For more information, please visit

Weight of the State 2015 Conference

August 6, 2014   


Prevention Connections and the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth are pleased to invite you to Virginia’s fourth Weight of the State conference on childhood obesity prevention, to be held in Richmond, Va., on April 20-21, 2015, at the Hilton Richmond Hotel in Short Pump.

Virginia’s 2015 Weight of the State conference will showcase the latest approaches in childhood obesity prevention and control. Hundreds of attendees from across the commonwealth will gather to hear national, state and local experts sharing cutting-edge tactics for reducing and preventing obesity, including community-based approaches and policy changes.

Learn more at


Acting U.S. Surgeon General to speak at Reduce Tobacco Use Conference

April 2, 2014   
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H.

ARLINGTON- Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., will deliver the keynote address at the 2014 national Reduce Tobacco Use conference, to be held April 10-11 at the Sheraton Pentagon City in Arlington.

Lushniak will speak about the progress made in tobacco prevention since the first U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was released 50 years ago. The conference’s opening remarks will be delivered by Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel.

Other speakers at the conference will include Mitch Zeller, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, and Karla Sneegas, Branch Chief, Program Services Branch, for the Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the conference CVS Caremark will also receive a special award for its move to eliminate sales of tobacco products from its 7,600 nationwide pharmacies by Oct. 1.

Hosted by Prevention Connections and the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the national Reduce Tobacco Use Conference will focus on the latest in tobacco-use prevention and cessation strategies for children, teens and young adults. Topics to be addressed include e-cigarettes, the appeal of flavored tobacco products to young people and reducing tobacco use among LGBT young adults.

More than 400 participants from as far away as Canada and Guam are expected at the conference, including educators, physicians, pediatricians and health professionals. More information can be found at

Supporters of the conference include: the Virginia Department of Health, Legacy, Sentara, American Heart Association, coVita, Fors Marsh Group and Rescue SCG.

About Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak:

Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., is the Acting United States Surgeon General. In this role, Dr. Lushniak articulates the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal health and the health of the Nation. He also oversees the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, comprised of approximately 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health and safety of our nation. Dr. Lushniak served as Deputy Surgeon General from November 2010 until July 17, 2013, when he assumed the duties of Acting Surgeon General.

A firm believer in leadership by example, RADM Lushniak promotes the core messages of the National Prevention Strategy via his active lifestyle. He is an avid long-distance bicyclist, runner and hiker. In 2012, he scaled the summit of the most heavily-glaciated peak in the United States, Washington’s 14-thousand foot Mount Rainier. He also leads community Surgeon General’s Walks throughout the United States. He resides in Rockville, Md., with his wife, Dr. Patricia Cusumano, and two daughters, Larissa and Stephanie.

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


First Lady of Va. Celebrates Healthy Youth Day

February 6, 2014   

RICHMOND, VA –On Jan. 15 First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe served as keynote speaker at the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s (VFHY) fifth annual Virginia Healthy Youth Day celebration, which was co-sponsored by Prevention Connections and held at the University of Richmond’s Robins Center. Mrs. McAuliffe spoke to the children about the importance of healthy eating, one of her key initiatives as First Lady. Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel also spoke at the event and introduced Mrs. McAuliffe. About 1,400 children from Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield public schools attended the celebration, which was held jointly with the University of Richmond Athletic Department’s Dream Big Day.

The event included a U of R Women’s Basketball Atlantic 10 conference game versus George Mason, marking the first time the two teams played against each other in the conference. Other activities for the children included a career fair, exercising sessions with fitness specialists from the YMCA of Greater Richmond and fun smoking prevention lessons from Mad Science of Central Virginia.

Established by a Virginia General Assembly resolution, Virginia Healthy Youth Day is held every January by VFHY and promotes physical fitness, good nutrition and healthy lifestyles for Virginia’s children.

“Virginia Healthy Youth Day reminds us that being physically active should be a year-round goal for Virginia’s young people and not limited to just warm summer days,” says VFHY Executive Director Marty Kilgore.

The University of Richmond’s Dream Big Day stresses the importance of higher-level education and promotes collegiate athletics.

Pledge now to support Prevention Connections in the Amazing Raise!

August 28, 2013   

Virginia Findings from the National Adult Tobacco Survey

June 10, 2013   

Download Report Download the Virginia Findings Report from the 2009-10 National Adult Tobacco Survey

The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Tobacco Use Control Project (TUCP) has released a report presenting the Virginia findings from the 2009-10 National Adult Tobacco Survey (NATS). An average of 9,242 Virginians who smoke or formerly smoke die each year from smoking-related causes.[i] Healthcare costs associated with smoking–related illness in Virginia are over two billion dollars; this amount excludes health costs attributable to second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure, and health costs associated with the use of tobacco products other than cigarettes.[ii] Additionally, productivity losses cost tax payers $2.53 billion dollars annually. In this report, data from the Virginia sample of the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey (NATS) was used to examine the behaviors, opinions, and experiences of adults in Virginia around tobacco use. Achieving a better understanding of why people in Virginia smoke, factors that contribute to successful smoking cessation, and demonstration of widespread support for SHS prevention in shared spaces will all help to decrease the proportion of people in Virginia affected by tobacco use.


[i] CDC, “State-Specific Smoking-Attributable Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost — United States, 2000-2004,” (MMWR) 58(2), January 22, 2009.

[ii] Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Accessed November 15, 2011.

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Reduce Tobacco Use Conference 2014

June 4, 2013   

National Reduce Tobacco Use Conference: April 10-11, 2014

Submission Deadline:  July 10, 2013

The National Reduce Tobacco Use Conference will showcase the latest in tobacco-use prevention, reduction and cessation with youth and young adults.

We are looking for presenters for a variety of topics related to tobacco use among young people.

Find out more about the requirements for submitting an abstract:

Download PDF Topic Descriptions

Download PDF Instructions

To share your expertise and submit an online abstract application, register here and complete the online abstract application. Once registered you will be able to access the application.

If you have any questions about the Call for Abstracts process, please contact Lisa Brown at (703) 501-3042 or

Prevention Connections Receives Grant from Anthem

November 5, 2012   

The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has awarded a $95,000 grant to Prevention Connections to help reduce smoking and other tobacco use among mental health and substance abuse patients in Virginia. “There is a significant gap in tobacco cessation services for the behavioral health population in Virginia. The smoking rate among this population is significantly greater than among other adults,” says Cathleen Grzesiek, board chair of Prevention Connections, a Richmond-based nonprofit focused on preventing tobacco use and obesity, the two leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. About 19.3 percent of adults in the United States smoke; various reports estimate that the smoking rate among adult mental health and substance abuse patients is as high as 60 percent to 90 percent.

In Virginia, 18.5 percent of adults are smokers. At least 9,200 Virginians die each year from health problems caused by their own smoking.

Prevention Connections will partner with the Alliance for the Prevention and Treatment of Nicotine Addiction and numerous state community services boards and behavioral health organizations to implement these initiatives through Sept. 30, 2013. The primary goals of the program relate to integrating tobacco cessation as a standard practice in behavioral health settings, including developing a toolkit of provider education resources and enabling education and training to equip and empower providers with skills and tools to intervene effectively with behavioral healthcare patients to reduce tobacco use.

Y Street announces 2013 Mini-Grant Recipients

October 10, 2012   

Y Street announced 24 recipients of the $2,000 Y Street Mini-Grants for FY12-13.  These grants are awarded to local student organizations in Virginia for encouraging active youth to become a part of Y Street and its mission.  Each recipient will host a Y Street Training in their community which will train 30-50 youth and one adult coordinator.  Last year’s Y Street Mini-Grants produced 629 new Y Street Members who successfully completed 999 projects and volunteered 2,913 hours (an increase of nearly 200%!).  Y Street – one of VFHY’s multiple marketing strategies – is a statewide association of high school youth advocates, who are working to enlighten their peers as to the consequences of tobacco use.  Y Street strives to cause cultural change in Virginia’s youth by deglamorizing tobacco and instilling pride in a smoke-free lifestyle.

Since 2004, more than 5,000 teens from all across Virginia have attended a training offered by Y Street.  The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) named Y Street the winner of its 2011 Youth Advocates of the Year (YAYA) Group Award.  To learn more, go to

PC Funds 50 Virginia Elementary Schools for Virginia Walk to School Day

October 3, 2012   

Prevention Connections is funding 50 Walk to School Day celebrations at schools across Virginia on Wednesday Oct. 3. State and local officials will join more than 100 children to walk to Richmond’s Linwood Holton Elementary. The walk will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Once Upon A Vine at 4009 MacArthur Ave.

Funded by grants from Prevention Connections, the Virginia Walk to School Day events aim to promote increased physical activity among schoolchildren, as well as create sustainable changes to support yearlong walking and biking to school. More than 4,000 International Walk to School Day events will be held at schools across the United States on Oct. 3, as well as in 40 other nations.

“We hope this event will inspire communities across Virginia to participate in the national Safe Routes to School program,” says Cathleen Grzesiek, chair of Prevention Connections. “The number of children who walk and bike to school has decreased by 73 percent over the last 40 years, and we need to turn that around.”

As of 2009, 13 percent of children ages 5 to 14 walked or bicycled to school, compared to 48 percent of students in 1969, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS).

Participating schools

Venable Elementary

Lees Corner Elementary, Brookfield Elementary, and Woodley Hills Elementary
1 additional schools to be determined

Galax Elementary, Galax Middle
1 additional school to be determined

Thomas Harrison Middle School, Spotswood Elementary School, Stone Spring Elementary School, John C. Meyers Elementary School, Ottobine Elementary School, Pleasant Valley Elementary School, Cub Run Elementary School, Skyline Middle School

King George
3 schools to be determined

TC Miller Elementary, Perrymont Elementary, R. S. Payne Elementary, Linkhorne Elementary, Dearington Elementary, Bass Elementary, Paul Munro Elementary

Madison Primary School

Martinsville-Henry County
Mount Olivet Elementary School

Carver Elementary, Cary Elementary, Chimborazo Elementary, Fox Elementary, George Mason Elementary, Greene Elementary, Linwood Holton Elementary, Miles Jones Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary, Reid Elementary, Stuart Elementary,

Booker T. Washington Elementary, Driver Elementary, Northern Shores Elementary, Kilby Shores Elementary, Hillpoint Elementary, Creekside Elementary, John Yeates Middle School

Meadowview Elementary School

Berkeley Glenn Elementary, Kate Collins Elementary, Wenonah Elementary, William Perry Elementary Scho

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