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FOR RELEASE: April 25, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahoma TAR WARS Poster Contest Winners Announced

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today the top 12 Oklahoma TAR WARS Program Poster Contest finalists during a ceremony at the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics.

The Grand Prizewinner is Ryan Hall of Winding Creek School in Moore. Hall will receive an all-expense paid trip to the National TAR WARS Poster Contest in Washington, D.C., July 13 - 15, with expenses paid by the Family Health Foundation of Oklahoma.

"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," said J.R. Nida, M.D., state commissioner of health.

"In Oklahoma, over 14,000 children become new daily smokers each year. If current trends continue, about 63,000 Oklahoma children now under the age of 18 will die from smoking," said Nida.

Nida said he is pleased to see that so many schools are investing time and energy to make the TAR WARS curriculum available to their fifth-graders. "Forty-two percent of our high school students and 21 percent of our middle school students are current users of tobacco products, making these early prevention efforts even more important," he emphasized.

Other winners include: Second place – John Foley, Piedmont Elementary School, Piedmont; Third place – Brett Littledeer, Maryetta School, Stilwell; Fourth place – Sarah Durika, Cleveland Elementary, Norman; Fifth place – Courtney Fisher, Pocola Elementary, Pocola; Sixth place – Julia Bowen, Kremlin-Hillsdale School, Kremlin; Seventh place – Tara Roberts, Clergern School, Edmond; Eighth place – Travis Briggs, Grove Upper Elementary, Grove; Ninth place – Erfan Ferdowsian, John Ross Elementary, Edmond; Tenth place – Brooke Helms, Will Rogers School, Shawnee; Eleventh place – Joshua Snelson, Porter Elementary, Porter; and Twelfth place – Kristin Alexander, Washington Elementary, Bristow.

Posters from 68 children were submitted to this year's annual statewide poster contest, held as part of Oklahoma TAR WARS, a tobacco use prevention and education program for fifth grade students. A program of the American Academy of Family Physicians, TAR WARS is administered by the OSDH to help youth learn the short-term consequences of tobacco use, the reasons people smoke, and the truth about tobacco advertising and marketing toward youth.

All individual school winners received a TAR WARS Ribbon, a finalist Certificate of Award, bicycle helmet and press release for their local newspaper. All prizes were donated by local businesses and organizations.

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