• Tar Wars content on AAFP.org will be discontinued as of May 31, 2024. Please download any resources or materials by that date.

    Tar Wars

    A community-based education program designed to teach kids to live tobacco-free.

    Tar Wars is a tobacco-free education program for fourth- and fifth-grade students. The program is designed to teach kids about the short-term health effects of tobacco use, the cost associated with using tobacco products, and the advertising techniques used by the tobacco industry to market their products to youth. 

    Tar Wars Program Information

    The Tar Wars program is implemented in classrooms by volunteers. By utilizing a community-based approach to mobilize family physicians, educators, and other health care professionals, Tar Wars can accomplish its goals.

    The Tar Wars program was developed by Jeff Cain, MD, and Glenna Pember of the Hall of Life, a division of the Denver Museum of Natural History, and Doctors Ought to Care (DOC) in 1988. The program has reached more than 10 million children worldwide.

    The program is owned and operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and is consistent with the guidelines for youth tobacco prevention programs set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Program Goals & Outcomes

    • Increase knowledge of short-term health effects and image-based consequences of tobacco use
    • Illustrate cost/financial impact of using tobacco and ways money could be better spent
    • Identify reasons why people use tobacco
    • Explain how tobacco advertising, tobacco use in movies, and the tobacco industry markets their products to youth

    Tar Wars has shown to be effective in increasing students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward tobacco use and advertising and should be considered as one of the building blocks in your school’s comprehensive, tobacco prevention education plan. 

    View Tar Wars Success Measurements »

    Supported in part by a grant from the AAFP Foundation

    Note: Due to the new comprehensive approach to tobacco use and nicotine dependence, the Tar Wars poster contest is an optional activity for state chapters in 2015. There will not be a Tar Wars poster contest at the national level. Please contact your state coordinator for updates on your state poster contest.