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FOR RELEASE: April 4, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

TAR WARS Poster Contest Judging Announced

The final judging of poster entries submitted by fifth-grade students throughout the state, as part of the Oklahoma TAR WARS Program Poster Contest, will be held Wed., April 12, at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, 1141 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City. Judging will begin at 9 a.m.

Approximately 22,000 Oklahoma fifth-grade students representing 368 schools throughout the state participated in the 1999-2000 TAR WARS Tobacco Education Program to discourage youth from using tobacco. Schools hosted a poster contest, then submitted winning entries to the state competition. State poster entries will be displayed for public viewing from April 13 - 25 at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

Nationally, health officials estimate that more than 3,000 young people begin to smoke each day and that about 1,000 of them will die prematurely as a result.

"Over 14,000 Oklahoma children, or about 40 a day, become new daily smokers each year. If current trends continue, about 63,000 Oklahoma children now under age 18 will die prematurely from smoking," said J.R. Nida, M.D., commissioner of health. Nida said the TAR WARS program has been one of the tools used to reach children at a very early age to teach them the dangers of using tobacco.

TAR WARS, a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians, is a tobacco use prevention and education program administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The program is designed for fifth-grade students and focuses on tobacco industry advertising and marketing tactics used to entice young people to smoke. TAR WARS uses classroom presentations featuring community volunteers who speak to students about tobacco hazards and targeted marketing of tobacco to youth.

Judges will choose the top 12 posters that show the positive effects of not using tobacco products. The grand prize winner will receive an all expense paid trip with a parent or adult to the National TAR WARS Poster Contest in Washington, D.C., July

13 – 15, sponsored by the Family Health Foundation of Oklahoma. Prizes will be given to all individual school winners.

The top 12 contest winners will receive top prizes and special recognition will be given to all school coordinators, speakers and sponsors. Second through seventh place winners will receive a bicycle; eighth and ninth place winners will receive a U.S. Savings Bond; and tenth, eleventh and twelfth place winners will receive gift certificates. All prizes are donated by local businesses and organizations.

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