Students from 34 States Recognized for Achievements in National Tar Wars Poster, Video Contests

Students visit Capitol Hill to share their message of tobacco use prevention

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 5223

WASHINGTON — Students from across the country gathered in Washington D.C. to celebrate being tobacco free during the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Tar Wars National Conference.

The conference consists of educational workshops as well as Capitol Hill visits that allow students to voice their opinions about tobacco use and tobacco legislation to their congressional leaders. There is also a ceremony to recognize the winners of the Tar Wars national poster and video contests and celebrate their creativity in sharing positive messages about being tobacco-free.

Juan Elizondo, a fifth-grader from Houston, Texas, was named the 2012 Tar Wars national poster contest winner. As the national poster contest winner, Juan receives a $1,500 gift card.

Lauren Buete, a fourth-grader from Tierra Verde, Fla., was named the winner of the video competition. As winner of the national video contest, Lauren was presented with a $1,500 gift card.

Tar Wars is a tobacco-free education program administered by the American Academy of Family Physicians 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 8.5 million children with its tobacco-free message.

The Tar Wars program culminates with its annual poster and video contests, which encourage children to communicate the positive aspects of not using tobacco.

In addition to Juan and Lauren, four runners-up in the poster contest, three runners up in the video contest and the state-level poster contest winners were recognized at the awards ceremony. The 29 state winners in attendance received a prize packet and a special gift.

Poster Contest Runners-up:

  • Second place: Anna Wray Lusk — Scottsboro, Ala.
  • Third place: Megan Cycon — West Seneca, N.Y.
  • Fourth place: Sara Akhtar — Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Fifth place: Taylor Coley — Bollingbrook, Ill.

Video Contest Runners-up:

  • Second Place: Ian Cook, Carson Levy, Joseph Pergolini and Noah Klein — Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Third Place: Alexandra Peterson, Paiton Allen, Sydney Ramenofsky — Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Fourth Place: Sterling Ayers — Ranburne, Ala.

The winning posters were chosen from 34 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.

The winning videos( can be viewed and digital images( of all winning posters can be downloaded at Poster artwork is also displayed in schools and is reproduced on promotional items for the Tar Wars program.

Tar Wars is the only youth tobacco education program offered at this time by a medical specialty organization in the United States. It reaches approximately 400,000 students annually. Family physicians and other health care professionals present Tar Wars programs to fourth- and fifth-graders in their local schools, during which they talk with youth about how tobacco makes one’s breath smell and how smoking can impair one’s ability to be active and play sports. The students also learn about practical issues, such as how much it costs to use tobacco for a week, a month, a year and over a lifetime.

Tar Wars has been presented in all 50 states as well as in Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Tar Wars is supported in part by the AAFP Foundation (

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