Tar Wars Program

Welcome to North Carolina Tar Wars

Tar Wars® is a pro-health, tobacco-free education program and poster contest for fourth- and fifth-graders. It was developed in 1988 by the Hall of Life at the Denver Museum of Natural History and DOC (Doctors Ought to Care). In 1999, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) acquired full ownership and operation of the program. The AAFP provides support to Tar Wars coordinators in each state. Since the program's inception, Tar Wars has been implemented in all 50 states, in 14 countries and has reached more than 8 million children worldwide.

Program Overview

Tobacco addiction causes approximately 440,000 deaths in the United States each year, making it the most preventable cause of death. Of the 46 million current U.S. smokers, 70 percent say they would like to quit. The Tar Wars Program seeks to reduce the amount of children and youth who use tobacco products by focusing on the fourth- and fifth-grades. Targeting this age group as several studies have shown that if students are reached at earlier ages, the rates of becoming a tobacco-user diminish considerably. Research from a 1998 University of North Carolina study indicated that there "is a need to begin smoking prevention classes very early, in elementary school, and a need to especially target disadvantaged youth". (Journal of Adolescent Health, 1998)

Tar Wars is an excellent tool to discourage tobacco use and help promote a healthy lifestyle for our state's youth. Tar Wars focuses its efforts on prevention by intervening prior to the onset of most tobacco use, in contrast to other programs that delay reaching youth until the teen years when tobacco use has already begun and is at a serious level.