By Perdita Henry
In 1988, Jeff Cain, MD, and Glenna Pember, of the Hall of Life and Doctors Ought to Care, had an idea about keeping kids away from tobacco products. They would go on to create Tar Wars, an educational program for fourth- and fifth-grade students. In the 30 years since the first class, Tar Wars has reached more than 10 million children across the globe. The program was eventually bought by AAFP and it became an opportunity for local family physicians, residents, and students to visit classrooms and discuss the health risks associated with smoking, the financial costs of the habit, and the sneaky ways advertisers market their product to young people. In the last few years, the program hasn’t seemed to bring the passion and excitement that it once did. The TAFP Commission on Public Health, Clinical Affairs, and Research wants to see that change.
At a number of commission meetings, members have reminisced about visiting children in their community and teaching them the importance of remaining tobacco free. Visiting schools with the Tar Wars message, by all accounts, seemed to bring joy to students and participating physicians alike. “I loved those mornings at school,” says John Carroll, MD. “I had five classrooms to visit and I spent 35 to 40 minutes with each. We flew through the discovery of being targeted by the second largest public advertising campaign.” After spending time with their local physician, the kids had the opportunity to create their own posters featuring their personal brand of tobacco-free messaging. Those posters were then submitted to state chapters and one would be chosen as the state winner. The Texas winner would receive the prize of hotel and airfare to present at the Tar Wars National Poster competition. more