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AAFP gives national recognition to SCHC Residency Tar Wars Program

California Residency Expands on Tar Wars Curriculum

Shasta Community Health Center Family Medicine Residency Program in Redding, Calif., used its grant to train residents to present Tar Wars sessions to elementary school students locally and statewide. The residency program also developed curriculum on tobacco and nicotine education for ninth-grade students in collaboration with local high-school faculty for the program's residents to deliver.

Debbie Lupeika, M.D., residency program director at the facility, told AAFP News that the Tar Wars presentation for fourth- and fifth-graders was customized after meeting with some local community health advocates and included a statewide poster contest.
Fifth-grader Kara Teasley, of Anderson, won $100 for her first-place entry in the 2015 California State Tar Wars poster contest, which features a fox that says, "Don't smoke."
"We plan to continue to present to the local fourth- and fifth-graders and continue the poster contest, which is always well received," Lupeika said. "We are proud of the work we are doing up here promoting the Tar Wars program in Shasta County, where we have one of the highest smoking rates in the state of California."
The presentations to educate ninth-grade students about tobacco and nicotine are scheduled to begin in the fall. Rachael Spradley, D.O., also of the Shasta Community Health Center, told AAFP News that the high-school presentation includes plenty of information on vaping, such as advertisements targeting younger people and poll questions to assess whether they know that vaping has not been well studied, is harmful to their health and increases the risk that they will use other nicotine-containing products -- particularly cigarettes.

"On our handout, I also included a blurb about a recent study showing that formaldehyde and heavy metals and other chemicals produced in e-cigs actually penetrate further into the body/lungs/bloodstream than normal cigarettes and that the vapor does cause damage to lung cells that could lead to cancer, along with a link to the article if they want to check it out," said Spradley.

Spradley's preparation of the curriculum included conversations with some of her teenage patients at the clinic about what it's like to have smoked e-cigarettes, what the habits are like in school and whether teens want to learn more. "And the information I got was extremely helpful to give me more perspective on the demographic," she said.


All AAFP chapters and family medicine residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education were eligible to apply for this year's AAFP tobacco prevention and control mini-grants. Grants went to recipients who implemented action plans with measurable goals in one of three key focus areas:

  • Office-based Tools
  • Community Engagement
  • Advocacy

Also receiving mini-grants were the following:

  • Connecticut AFP 
  • Escambia Community Clinics Inc. in Pensacola, Fla.
  • Illinois AFP
  • Inspira Family Medicine Center Woodbury in Woodbury, N.J.
  • Iowa AFP
  • Kansas AFP
  • New Jersey AFP

The grants were made possible with support from the AAFP Foundation.

"After delving into e-cigarettes and reading up on it myself -- I went into it thinking it wasn't as big a deal but what I learned certainly changed my mind -- I think we have a lot of great information for them that (high-school students) will want to know. We may make it a regular part of the family medicine residency program for residents as they go through certain rotations to attend or present the talk at the high schools."

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