Students from 35 States Recognized for Achievements in National Tar Wars Poster, Video Contests

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6052

WASHINGTON — Every day in the United States, more than 3,200 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and an estimated 2,100 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers become daily cigarette smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With that in mind, 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 spreading positive messages about staying tobacco-free.

The AAFP’s Tar Wars annual conference consists of educational workshops as well as Capitol Hill legislative 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. 

Ava Duke, a fifth-grader from Scottsboro, Alabama, was named the 2014 Tar Wars national poster contest winner. Her pirate-themed poster caught the eyes of judges with a clever tagline, “Treasure your lungs, don’t smoke me hearties.” As the national poster contest winner, Ava received a $1,500 check.

Mary Climath Massey, a fifth-grader from Lafayette, Tennessee, was named the national winner of the video competition and was presented with a $750 check.

Videos and digital images of the first-place and runner-up winners can be viewed on

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.

The AAFP has overseen Tar Wars since 1997, and the program has grown to reach thousands of fourth- and fifth-grade students in all 50 states, several territories and internationally each year. Since its founding, Tar Wars has reached more than 10 million children. Tar Wars was developed in 1988 by Jeff Cain, M.D., and Glenna Pember of the Hall of Life at the Denver Museum of Natural History and Doctors Ought to Care.

In addition to first place winners Ava and Mary, 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 25 state winners in attendance received a prize packet and a special gift.

Poster Contest Runners-up:

  • Second place: Zoe Ladner — Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Third place: Alina Gilmer — Kenmore, New York. 
  • Fourth place: Kaiden Gray — St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • Fifth place: Emily Walters — Caldwell, Idaho.

Video Contest Runners-up:

  • Second place: CJ Coppola, Will Foster, and Danny Prior — East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
  • Third place: Emma Hayman — Catawissa, Pennsylvania; Olivia Thompson — Elysburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Fourth place: Nicole Robison — St. Petersburg, Florida.

The winning posters were chosen from 35 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.

Tar Wars is the only youth tobacco education program offered at this time by a medical specialty organization in the United States. Family physicians and other health care professionals present Tar Wars programs to fourth- and fifth-graders in their local schools. The students learn during about how tobacco makes one’s breath smell and how smoking can impair one’s ability to be active and play sports. They 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 is supported in part by the AAFP Foundation

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,