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  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: One or two class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will be able to do the following:
1. Understand some of the physical dangers of smoking
2. Understand that various factors influence their decision making
3. Understand the different advertising strategies that tobacco companies use
4. Discuss personal responsibilities regarding smoking


For this lesson, you will need:
Newspapers or magazines containing tobacco advertisements


1. Read the following statements to the class. After each statement, have students decide whether they agree or disagree. If they agree, they should raise their hand with a balled fist; if they disagree, they should raise their open hand with their fingers spread apart. Before reading the next question, have one student who agrees with the statement give a reason for his or her opinion. Likewise, have one student give a reason for disagreeing with the statement. Here are the statements:
  • Local governments have the right to ban smoking in public places.
  • Tobacco companies target young people with their advertising.
  • It should be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, use, or possess tobacco products.
  • Quitting tobacco use is the same process for everyone.
  • Tobacco companies are ultimately responsible for an individual's smoking.
2. Lead the class in a discussion about what factors influence their opinions about smoking, such as family, friends, celebrities, television, music, and advertisements.
3. Divide the class into small groups and have them peruse magazines and newspapers to find at least one tobacco advertisement. Ask them to identify and list the different strategies companies use in their advertising. Some strategies might be these: bandwagon, fact versus opinion, fantasy, humor, sensory appeal, statistics, or testimonial.
4. Then have the students answer the following questions about their advertisement:
  1. Is the ad targeted at a specific group (e.g., women, teens, a specific cultural group)?
  2. Does the ad give a good reason for using the product? What is the reason?
  3. Does the ad make unbelievable claims?
  4. Does the ad give useful information about the long- or short-term effect of tobacco use?
5. Hold a class discussion about personal responsibility and decision making. Who is ultimately responsible for an individual's smoking? Are people powerless under the influences of tobacco advertisements, or should they take responsibility for their smoking? Why might it be more difficult for young people to make responsible choices about smoking? Should this be a factor in how tobacco advertisements are regulated?
6. End the lesson with a discussion about the dangers of smoking. Have students identify four physical effects of using tobacco.

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Adaptation for Younger Students
Begin the activity with a discussion about the dangers of smoking. Lead the discussion to why people choose to smoke. Bring up the subject of advertising and how it may influence one's decision to smoke. Explain that advertisers use different strategies to sell products. Write the different strategies on the board (see step 3 above) and briefly describe what each means. Divide the class into groups and assign each group a strategy. Have the groups look through magazines for cigarette advertisements that represent their strategy. When groups have finished, allow them time to present their advertisement and talk about how it uses the strategy to promote smoking that particular brand of cigarette. Explain to students that knowing about how cigarette advertisements work may help them make better decisions about smoking.

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Discussion Questions

1. Are teenagers particularly at risk to advertising strategies? Why or why not?
2. Why do tobacco companies target young people with their advertisements?
3. How do you think the warning on cigarette packs affects the consumer?
4. Discuss why quitting smoking is so difficult.
5. Cigarette smoking is decreasing among all population groups except teenagers. Hypothesize why there may be an increase in teenage cigarette smoking.
6. How might you as a nonsmoking teenager encourage your peers to be nonsmokers?

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Have students provide three reasons people smoke. Then have them provide what they think are the three most important factors that can influence someone not to use tobacco.

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Campaign for Teens
Have students work in small groups to create anti-tobacco advertisements targeted at teenagers. Let students choose the medium, such as a radio spot, a television announcement, a print advertisement, or an Internet site. Let each group present its advertisement. Then discuss the strategies that make an anti-tobacco campaign successful.

Class Debate
Divide the class into two groups. One group takes the role of lobbyists for the tobacco industry, and the other takes the role of lobbyists for antismoking groups. Have each group research its position, and then debate whether more restrictions should be placed on the advertising and selling of tobacco products.

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Suggested Readings

Tobacco U.S.A.: The Industry Behind the Smoke Curtain
Eileen Heyes, Twenty-First Century Books, 1999.
The history of the tobacco industry involves agriculture, economics, and politics. This book explores all of these areas and takes a closer look at the industry's advertising practices, the growing awareness of associated health risks, and the resulting legal challenges to the tobacco industry.

Jody Monroe, Enslow, 1995.
This book gives a straightforward look at the physical and social problems of smoking and other tobacco use. Topics include information on how to quit smoking, how to prevent teens from starting the habit, and how the social acceptability of smoking has changed over time.

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The Truth About Tobacco
A dynamic video featuring Patrick Reynolds, son of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds. An anti-smoking advocated, Reynolds uses video clips, photos and TV spots to demonstrate the impact smoking has on our health and society.

CDC's TIPS: Tobacco Information and Prevention Resource
Featuring "Tips 4 Kids" and "Tips 4 Teens," this site, from the Center for Disease Control, provides extensive resources for learning about and avoiding tobacco use.

American Cancer Society-Cancer Facts and Figures-Tobacco Use
This site provides tobacco use data, including smokeless tobacco, from 1998.

Tobacco Issues
See what a major tobacco company says about health issues related to tobacco at the R. J. Reynolds web site.

A collection of facts about smoking

Get TUF: Tobacco Use Free
This site is the result of efforts to create a tobacco-free West Virginia. In addition to detailing the work in one state, there are also links to other resources.

Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids
This site offers research, initiatives and special reports all related to reducing youth tobacco use.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    addiction
Definition: A strong physical and psychological craving for a substance.
Context: Nicotine addiction makes it difficult for tobacco users to quit smoking.

speaker    emphysema
Definition: A disease in which lung tissue is destroyed and air sacs are lost.
Context: One of the side effects of smoking is the disease emphysema, which has no cure.

speaker    nicotine
Definition: The addictive substance in tobacco.
Context: Nicotine is classified as a stimulant.

speaker    passive smoking
Definition: Breathing air contaminated with tobacco smoke.
Context: Passive smoking can have a serious impact on the health of nonsmokers.

speaker    sidestream smoke
Definition: Smoke from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe.
Context: Sidestream smoke can be as harmful as the smoke inhaled by the smoker.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Health
Knows how to maintain and promote personal health.
Knows how personal behaviors relate to health and well-being and how those behaviors can be modified if necessary to promote achievement of health goals throughout life (e.g., following a personal nutrition plan to reduce the risk of disease, periodically self-assessing physical fitness).
Benchmark: Understands the short- and long-term consequences of safe, risky, and harmful behaviors.
Benchmark: Understands the impact of personal health behaviors on the functioning of body systems.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Health
Understands aspects of substance use and abuse.
Knows the short- and long-term effects associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs on reproduction, pregnancy, and the health of children.
Benchmark: Understands that alcohol, tobacco, and other drug dependencies are treatable diseases and conditions.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Life skills/thinking and reasoning
Applies decision-making techniques.
Analyzes decisions that were major turning points in history and describes how things would have been different if other alternatives had been selected.
Benchmark: Analyzes current or pending decisions that can affect national or international policy and identifies the consequences of each alternative.
Benchmark: Evaluates major factors that influence personal decisions.

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Betsy Gallun, former high school health educator and current specialist for a state department of education.

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