Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don't, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.

Clearing the Smoke About Cigarettes

Students will:
1. List reasons why people smoke and reasons why people should not smoke; evaluate whether any of the reasons why people smoke are justifiable and why people smoke when they know that smoking is hazardous behavior.

2. Examine a recent study relating cigarette smoking to tension by reading and discussing “Riding the Cycle of Stress and Smoke.”

3. Develop a list of creative ways to disseminate information about the hazards of cigarette smoking in an ad campaign geared towards their peers; develop a set of questions that students feel they need to answer through research to convince other kids not to smoke.

4. Explore the answers to class-developed research questions by using available classroom research materials.

5. Design an anti-smoking ad campaign for other students their age that incorporates the information gained through group research.

Suggested Time Allowance: 45 minutes- 1 hour, plus homework

1. WARM-UP/DO-NOW: In the first five minutes of class, students respond to the following questions in their journals (written on the board prior to class): Fold a piece of paper in your journal lengthwise. Label the left column “Why” and the right column “Why Not.” Then, in the “Why” column, create a list of different reasons why someone might smoke cigarettes. In the “Why Not” column, create a list of reasons why people should not smoke cigarettes. After five minutes, ask students to share their lists, recording student responses on the board in the two columns. Do students feel that any of the reasons for smoking are justifiable? Why do people smoke if they know the dangers listed in the “Why Not” column?

2. As a class, read and discuss “Riding the Cycle of Stress and Smoke,” focusing on the following questions: a. What did the recently published cigarette study discussed in the article say? b. How, according to the study, can cigarette smoking add to a smoker’s stress level? c. Why might “people with higher levels of stress (be) drawn to smoking”? d. What is the “whipsaw effect of addiction”? e. Why might “pointing out the link between nicotine and stress…be useful in helping smokers face the undeniable stress of quitting”? f. Are you surprised by any of the information in this article? If so, what information is surprising to you? If not, why not?

3. Explain to students that they will be working on ad campaigns geared to kids their age to tell them of the hazards of smoking cigarettes. As a class, brainstorm and on the board make a list of creative ways to disseminate this information to kids, in a way that will be attention-getting and appealing to them (commercials, posters, quizzes with answer sheets, flyers, etc.) Then, brainstorm all of the different questions that students feel they need to answer through research to convince other kids not to smoke (e.g., What are the immediate health effects of smoking? What are the long-term health effects of smoking? What statistics are available on teen smoking rates?) Try to develop a comprehensive list of questions.

4. Divide students into small groups of four or five students each, and make available research materials for students to use to answer all of the questions developed in the brainstorm. One person in the group should write down all of the questions from the board so that research can extend beyond this class period.

5. WRAP-UP/HOMEWORK: Once a group is finished with their research, they are to incorporate their work into an informative anti-smoking ad campaign. They may choose to incorporate different media in the ad campaign and can create as many different products (such as posters) as they like, but they must meet the following criteria:

• incorporation of the answers to the research questions developed in class
• incorporation of statistics relevant to students their age
• inclusion of appealing and memorable anti-smoking slogan –visual appeal
• targeted to students their age
• persuasive in language

Once each group’s campaign is designed, their final products should be distributed and/or displayed throughout the school.

Further Questions for Discussion:
• Why do people smoke cigarettes? 
• Why do people start smoking cigarettes? 
• Why do people smoke when they know that it is damaging to their health? 
• What types of physical damage can smoking cigarettes cause? 
• What social, political, and economic factors may cause fluctuations in the number of people who smoke cigarettes from year to year? 
• What is smoking cessation, and what different methods are available? 
• How might the race, gender, and economic backgrounds of children and adults affect whether or not they smoke? 
• What legislation in the United States has been passed to ban smoking in specific areas, and do you think that this legislation is effective and/ or necessary? 
• What responsibilities, if any, do you feel the media has to children to present the dangers of smoking? 
• How do cigarette advertisements present smoking, and what roles do these ads play in encouraging people to smoke?

Evaluation / Assessment:
Students will be evaluated based on initial journal response, participation in class discussions and brainstorm, complete and accurate group answers to class-developed research questions, and thoughtful and creative anti-smoking ad campaign geared toward other students their age.

paradoxes, whipsaw, irritability, plasma, undeniable

Extension Activities:

1. Analyze cigarette ads in newspapers, magazines, and on billboards, focusing on who is in each ad, what they are doing, how the product is presented, and what seems to be “promised” if one smokes. Then, students can “redraw” these advertisements so that they demonstrate a more accurate depiction of the effects of smoking cigarettes.

2. Research and create a display about how cigarettes affect the human body. Students can also research how other types of drugs affect the body, as well as the nature of addictions.

3. Create, distribute, and analyze a survey in your school about views of smoking among students and adults. Then, publish the results in your school newspaper or in a visible area in your school. How do the results of your survey compare to other statistical information you came across in your research?

4. Conduct online research about diseases that develop due to different kinds of tobacco use (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco.) Present your research to your class.

5. Keep a log of instances in which a character smokes on a television show over the course of a few days. How often does the character smoke on this particular episode? When is the character shown smoking? (e.g., after a meal, in a time of stress) How is smoking presented (i.e., a glamorous action or a terrible habit)? Do characters who smoke have positive/sympathetic roles or negative roles in the story?

6. Learn about the recent tobacco settlements by reading and discussing newspaper articles about the causes and results of legal action against tobacco companies.

7. Explore the environmental issues that stem from cigarette smoking and the emission of other toxins into the atmosphere.

8. Invite a doctor or other health practitioner who is involved in helping people to stop smoking to come to your class to talk about methods of smoking cessation and the hazards associated with smoking cigarettes.

Student journals
Pens/pencils paper
Classroom blackboard copies of “Riding the Cycle of Stress and Smoke” (one per student)
Information about the effects of cigarette smoking and smoking statistics (brochures obtained from appropriate medical organizations, health reference books, computers with Internet access)

Teacher Tips
There is no teacher tip available for this lesson plan.

Alison Zimbalist, The New York Times Learning Network

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