Case Study

Engaging youth to implement and enforce 100% tobacco-free school policies.

The Challenge

While school districts in Virginia and New Mexico are required to have tobacco-free policies, many are out-of-date or include loopholes that inadequately covering new tobacco products, or allow tobacco use after school hours. As a result, youth are exposed to new products and tobacco during school events, increasing the perception that tobacco is acceptable and the likelihood that they will try smoking themselves.

Behavior Change Approach
The 24/7 campaign seeks to ensure all school policies are 100% tobacco-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in Virginia and New Mexico. The campaign equips students with knowledge and tools they can share with school officials who have the power to adopt comprehensive policies.
Implementation Strategy

    24/7 is led by youth leaders in Rescue’s local youth engagement programs, Evolvement and Y Street. Through these statewide programs, we recruit high school students to serve as campaign leaders and champions. Youth are trained on the policy issue and how to advocate for policy change.
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    Youth leaders document support for 24/7 policies by collecting testimonials from students, teachers, staff, and parents. Then, Rescue helps youth secure presentations at local school boards and recruits local media to cover board presentations and votes. When a board votes to update its policy, the campaign earns immediate media coverage and the community’s attention.
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  • 24/7 SIGNAGE

    After districts update their policies to be 100% tobacco-free, our team helps districts share and enforce their updated policies by providing free 24/7 signage. This signage alerts all students, staff, and visitors of the change, while branding the school as a “24/7 site,” increasing campaign awareness and policy enforcement.
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    Rescue and 24/7 recognize tobacco-free school districts with an annual statewide celebration, “24/7 Tobacco-Free Spirit Day.” On this day, we generate earned media and use social media to spread awareness of 24/7 tobacco-free schools, boosting local engagement and increasing the likelihood of neighboring school districts updating their own policies.
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Results & Impact

Over 1,200 youth have been mobilized as 24/7 student leaders, who have educated stakeholders and presented to dozens of school district boards. Through 2018, sixteen school districts in Virginia and four in New Mexico have successfully converted to be 100% tobacco-free.