Fifth-grader Kara Teasley of Anderson, Calif., won $100 for her first-place entry in the 2015 California State Tar Wars poster contest.
Fast forward to today, and the 10 grant recipients have each completed the initial phase of their projects and submitted reports on how each used the $4,000 award to fund innovative tobacco-control efforts at the state and local levels.
AAFP News spoke with three mini-grant recipients to discuss their accomplishments and takeaways from participating in the program.
New Mexico Tackles Both E-Cigarettes and Traditional Tobacco
The New Mexico AFP used its grant to create an E-Tar Wars curriculum aimed at educating students, mostly fourth- and fifth-graders, about electronic cigarettes and new tobacco products. The group also used the "Breathe Tradition, Not Addiction"(www.lovingservice.us) campaign originally created by the Native Health Initiative to educate sixth- to 12th-grade students about the differences between tobacco use in Native American traditions/ceremonies and recreational tobacco use.
- Members of the inaugural class of AAFP tobacco prevention and control mini-grant recipients have completed the initial phase of their projects and submitted reports on how each used the $4,000 award.
- All AAFP chapters and family medicine residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education were eligible to apply for the tobacco mini-grants.
- The grants were made possible with support from the AAFP Foundation.
Aaron Hurd, coordinator for the project and current nursing student at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, told AAFP News that most of the kids project staff interacted with already had some experience with e-cigarettes, whether it was personal or through friends or family.
The key points that seemed to resonate with the kids were that e-cigarettes are not safe to use because they contain nicotine and that people may use e-cigarettes to begin smoking rather than to quit smoking, he said.
"I hope that the kids took home a determination to find out more about e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco," Hurd said. "We partly rely on the children's own interest to further their education on smoking. I hope they also learn (from the Breathe Tradition, Not Addiction campaign) to be sensitive to different cultures that practice different traditions; New Mexico has a variety of different beliefs."
California Residency Expands on Tar Wars Curriculum
Shasta Community Health Center Family Medicine Residency Program in Redding, Calif., used its grant to train residents to present Tar Wars sessions to elementary school students locally and statewide. The residency program also developed curriculum on tobacco and nicotine education for ninth-grade students in collaboration with local high-school faculty for the program's residents to deliver.
Debbie Lupeika, M.D., residency program director at the facility, told AAFP News that the Tar Wars presentation for fourth- and fifth-graders was customized after meeting with some local community health advocates and included a statewide poster contest.
Fifth-grader Kara Teasley, of Anderson, won $100 for her first-place entry in the 2015 California State Tar Wars poster contest, which features a fox that says, "Don't smoke."
"We plan to continue to present to the local fourth- and fifth-graders and continue the poster contest, which is always well received," Lupeika said. "We are proud of the work we are doing up here promoting the Tar Wars program in Shasta County, where we have one of the highest smoking rates in the state of California."
The Minnesota AFP Foundation used its mini-grant to support the "Skate Vape Free Minnesota" campaign, which seeks to create awareness among youth, parents and hockey coaches about the increased use and dangers of e‐cigarettes.
The presentations to educate ninth-grade students about tobacco and nicotine are scheduled to begin in the fall. Rachael Spradley, D.O., also of the Shasta Community Health Center, told AAFP News that the high-school presentation includes plenty of information on vaping, such as advertisements targeting younger people and poll questions to assess whether they know that vaping has not been well studied, is harmful to their health and increases the risk that they will use other nicotine-containing products -- particularly cigarettes.
"On our handout, I also included a blurb about a recent study showing that formaldehyde and heavy metals and other chemicals produced in e-cigs actually penetrate further into the body/lungs/bloodstream than normal cigarettes and that the vapor does cause damage to lung cells that could lead to cancer, along with a link to the article if they want to check it out," said Spradley.
Spradley's preparation of the curriculum included conversations with some of her teenage patients at the clinic about what it's like to have smoked e-cigarettes, what the habits are like in school and whether teens want to learn more. "And the information I got was extremely helpful to give me more perspective on the demographic," she said.
2014-2015 Tobacco Mini-Grants Breakdown
All AAFP chapters and family medicine residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education were eligible to apply for this year's AAFP tobacco prevention and control mini-grants. Grants went to recipients who implemented action plans with measurable goals in one of three key focus areas:
- office-based tools,
- community engagement and
Also receiving mini-grants were the following:
- Connecticut AFP
- Escambia Community Clinics Inc. in Pensacola, Fla.
- Illinois AFP
- Inspira Family Medicine Center Woodbury in Woodbury, N.J.
- Iowa AFP
- Kansas AFP
- New Jersey AFP
The grants were made possible with support from the AAFP Foundation.
"After delving into e-cigarettes and reading up on it myself -- I went into it thinking it wasn't as big a deal but what I learned certainly changed my mind -- I think we have a lot of great information for them that (high-school students) will want to know. We may make it a regular part of the family medicine residency program for residents as they go through certain rotations to attend or present the talk at the high schools."
Minnesota Dials Up Its "Skate Vape Free" Program
The Minnesota AFP Foundation used its mini-grant to promote its "Skate Vape Free Minnesota" community outreach program that seeks to educate youth, parents and hockey coaches about the increased use and dangers of e‐cigarettes.
The campaign successfully launched a social media component using the hashtag #SkateVapeFree on Twitter and Instagram during hockey tournaments in March, which led to more than 37,000 views of the Minnesota AFP Foundation's Skate Vape Free resource website.
Three medical students represented the project as spokespeople, including Melissa White, who just completed her first year at the University of Minnesota Medical School-Twin Cities.
White, who also happens to be a youth hockey coach, discussed the vaping dangers message directly with other hockey teams, including at a Skate Vape Free booth at a hockey expo.
"I was personally surprised at the thoughts the young players had on e-cigarettes, which included that e-cigarettes were just a type of flavored air," she told AAFP News. "They explained that this was due to how the product was marketed and how the flavors are emphasized."
White said she discovered that only a few girls on her hockey team (ages 13-15) understood that e-cigarettes contain nicotine.
"This was also a common theme at the hockey expo," she told AAFP News. "Youth players were unaware of any potential negative chemicals in e-cigarettes. Multiple young players stated they probably would not use e-cigarettes if they understood that it was potentially harmful and could impact their physical health.
"Just from speaking to the youth players on my team and at the hockey expo, I feel like the campaign message has reached the majority of the players we were able to interact with and will hopefully spread around the Twin Cities and, eventually, further."
Related AAFP News Coverage
Studies Suggest E-Cigarettes Don't Aid Long-term Smoking Cessation
Continued Rise in Teen E-Cigarette Use Becomes Greater Concern