WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Academy of Family Physicians this week is recognizing the talents of a group of fourth and fifth graders from across the country for their efforts spreading positive messages about staying tobacco free.
At a special ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the AAFP’s Tar Wars program Monday, the organization announced the winners of its annual poster and video contests. Kinjal Gupta, a fifth grader from West Greenwich, R.I., is the winner of this year’s national poster contest for his submission, which used the tagline “Live long, stand strong, be tobacco free.” Delaney Reid, a fifth grader from Kenmore, N.Y., wins this year’s national video contest for her submission, which explained why using tobacco is a bad idea. Gupta and Reid each receive a $1,500 award.
More than 30 students from the 36 participating states and the District of Columbia were among the crowd of approximately 150 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill for the ceremony, which featured an appearance by Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH, United States Deputy Surgeon General. Lushniak, whose initial training was in family medicine, will begin duties July 17 as Acting U.S. Surgeon General.

Tar Wars is a tobacco-free education program administered by the AAFP that focuses on developing fourth- and fifth-grade students’ knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about tobacco use and the effects of tobacco on the body. Since it was established in 1988, Tar Wars has reached more than 9 million children.

Dr. Jeffrey Cain, AAFP president and Tar Wars co-founder, said that after a quarter century, the program continues to provide a meaningful avenue for family physicians to communicate the consequences of tobacco use to kids.

“The family doctors who visit with students across the country through the Tar Wars program play an important role in making sure kids understand that not smoking is sexy, glamorous and cool,” Cain said. “We want to ensure that children have the knowledge and skills to make the decision to not use tobacco, even before the first cigarette is offered.”

The Tar Wars program culminates each year with the poster and video contests, which encourage children to communicate the positive aspects of not using tobacco. In his remarks at the ceremony, Lushniak thanked the students for their dedication to staying tobacco free.

“The best way to keep people of all ages from becoming dependent on tobacco is to make sure they never start in the first place,” Lushniak said. “These students used their creativity to come up with some excellent positive messages about staying tobacco free.”

In addition to Gupta and Reid, the ceremony also recognized four runners-up in the poster contest, three runners up in the video contest and the winners of the state-level poster contests. The state winners in attendance received a prize packet and a special gift.

Poster Contest Runners-up:
  • Second Place: Carson Fisher, Sheffield, Ill.
  • Third Place: Albert Burkle, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Fourth Place: Olivia Sheetz, Wilmington, Del.
  • Fifth Place: Sonia C. Amin, Clearwater, Fla.
Video Contest Runners-up:
  • Second Place: Corbin Ellis, St. Petersburg, Fla.
  • Third Place: Benjamin Thornton (Cranston, R.I.), Alex Simon Marootian (Providence, R.I.), and Daniel Shimberg (East Greenwich, R.I.)
  • Fourth Place: Clark McArthur, Atlanta, Ga.
The winning posters were chosen from 36 entries, all of which were winners of state-level Tar Wars poster contests. Posters were judged on their artistry, creativity, originality and their ability to communicate a clear and positive message about being tobacco-free. To view or download the winning posters and videos as well as submissions of the runners-up, visit tarwars.org. Tar Wars is supported in part by the AAFP Foundation.
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