Introduction and Background to the Virginia Youth Tobacco Project Research Database (2002 – 2018) 

Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth

The Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF) in 1999, using funds obtained from the Master Settlement Agreement with the four major US tobacco companies.  Now re-named the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the VFHY funds numerous initiatives, including research on the etiology and prevention of youth tobacco use, which is the focus of this report.  Research institutions participating in the Virginia Youth Tobacco Projects (VYTP) have included George Mason University, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia State University, Virginia Tech, and Eastern Virginia Medical School, and The College of William and Mary —these institutions make up the Virginia Youth Tobacco Projects Research Coalition.  In addition, Virginia Commonwealth University serves as the coordinating center for the VYTP Research Coalition and uses a portion of its VFHY support to fund additional small grants.

In its mandate from the VFHY Board, the VYTP was charged with the responsibility to build a statewide, coordinated program of multi-disciplinary research on youth tobacco use.  In addressing that mandate, the Virginia Youth Tobacco Projects Research Coalition was established (PIs are Dr. J. Randy Koch and Dr. Alison Breland).  Coalition activities to date have included a small grants program, five major statewide research conferences, smaller coalition meetings (annual), and targeted funding of multi-university sponsored research projects. 

Research from VFHY and VYTP-funded Projects

In 2008, 2011, and 2014, reports describing all funded work by coalition members were described.  In 2017, the format was changed to a database that now includes all published articles by VYTP researchers beginning in 2002 (the database is updated quarterly). Given the complex and multidimensional nature of adolescent tobacco use, the VFHY has funded a wide variety of research studies, including animal models of adolescent tobacco use, genetic studies in humans and animals, human laboratory studies, epidemiological studies, studies of interventions, and policy studies. 

The VYTP is also one component of a much larger youth tobacco control effort in Virginia.  Between FY 2007 and FY 2018, VYTP members made 186 applications to federal, state, and private organizations other than VFHY, and 81 were funded (44% of all applications submitted).   In addition, VFHY funding helped lead to a much larger research grant: in 2013, VCU was awarded an $18.3 million grant by the Food and Drug Administration/National Institute on Drug Abuse to become one of 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science, nationwide.  This grant was recently renewed for an additional five years for $19.78 million. The goal of VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products is to develop and test a model for evaluating modified risk tobacco products (MRTPs) that may come to be regulated by the FDA (such as electronic cigarettes).  As research shows that youth are using electronic cigarettes, and this use has been increasing, the goals of the CSTP are related to the goals of the VYTP.  The VYTP is now being housed within this innovative Center at VCU.

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Virginia Youth Tobacco Project Research Database (2002 – 2018)

This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number U54DA036105 and the Center for Tobacco Products of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the views of the NIH or the FDA.