Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes nearly 440,000 deaths in the United States each year, making tobacco use the leading preventable cause of death. Each day, more than 3,500 children in the United States try their first cigarette; another 1,000 become new regular, daily smokers. About a third of all youth smokers will eventually die prematurely from smoking-related disease.
In addition to the well-known, long-term health effects, children who smoke may immediately experience increased heartbeat and blood pressure, respiratory problems, reduced immune function, increased illness, tooth decay, gum disease, and precancerous gene mutations. The tobacco industry also spends more than $13.1 billion each year to promote use of their products. Much of that marketing directly reaches and influences kids.
Tar Wars was founded in response to this growing, yet preventable, health crisis. Administered by the American Academy of Family Physicians, Tar Wars is an award-winning, tobacco-free education program targeting fourth- and fifth-grade students.
Tar Wars uses an effective and innovative approach to teaching tobacco prevention, focusing on the short-term, image-based consequences of tobacco use and how to think critically about tobacco advertising.
The Tar Wars lesson is presented by health care professionals and educators. Tar Wars also provides health care professionals, school personnel, and community members the opportunity to form coalitions that share the common goal of discouraging tobacco use among children. A poster contest at the school, state, and national levels is conducted to reinforce the Tar Wars message.
Help Tar Wars in the fight against tobacco use!