The only way to eliminate a young person’s desire to use tobacco is to make it uncool. But that’s easier said than done. Changing cultural norms among young people requires penetrating their peer crowd in an authentic manner. To do this, VFHY first has to identify and understand the most common peer crowds in Virginia and determine which of these niche youth cultures are most likely to use tobacco products.
Groups of youth who share a combination of fashion, music, language, culture, mannerisms, media consumption habits and other behaviors to define their social identity and differentiate themselves from other groups of youth.
With the help of its contractors Rescue Social Change Group and Market Decisions Health Care Research, VFHY has collected ongoing data on the most common peer crowds in Virginia. Five peer crowds are present in nearly every high school and each has a different tobacco use rate. The figures below come from a study conducted in 2011 that combines past 30-day cigarette smoking and Black & Mild smoking into an overall “smoking rate.”