This section includes a survey to determine students' perceptions about tobacco, their understanding of its effects, and their experience with it. In addition, it includes activities to educate students about the health consequences of tobacco use.
As mentioned in the teacher’s instructions for Activities 1 and 2, adolescents may not understand the nature of tobacco addiction. This activity will explain what nicotine is and how it affects the body so that students understand the concept of addiction as they make their decision to be tobacco free.
To introduce this activity, ask students to define “addiction.” Write their thoughts on the board or chart paper. Students might give you examples of things people might be addicted to, such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. Encourage them to define the term. Then, have a student provide the dictionary definition of “addiction.”
Explain to your students that they are going to read about nicotine addiction. Then, share the digital activity link below with your students. Have them complete the activity, including questions and answers, and then review the answers together. You may wish to present it on an interactive whiteboard (such as a SMART Board) or have students go directly to the activity on their computers. Have them work in groups to assess the risks and health consequences for the smoking scenario. Note that they may navigate back and forth between the activity screens by clicking the “Page” tabs at the bottom of the activity.
1) TRUE. Nicotine is a drug.
2) FALSE. In order to be “True,” the statement should say: The adrenaline (or epinephrine) released by the body after absorbing nicotine stimulates the body and causes an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.
3) FALSE. In order to be “True,” the statement should say: Most smokers use tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine.
4) FALSE. In order to be “True,” the statement should say: Each year, nearly 35 million smokers want to quit.
5) TRUE. Nicotine causes the same changes in the brain as heroin and cocaine.
6) TRUE. Without nicotine, a smoker can feel irritable and depressed.
After reviewing the answers together, share the following additional facts with your class:
To wrap up the activity and reiterate the health consequences of tobacco use and the addictive nature of nicotine, discuss the warning labels that appear on tobacco products.
Explain to your students that the U.S. Surgeon General serves as the head of the United States Public Health Service and is the leading spokesperson on such matters for the U.S. government. There are specific health warnings placed on cigarette packages and advertisements on a rotating basis.13 Display the following warnings for your students to see, or write them on the board:
The Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Health Education Act of 1986, as amended, requires that there be one of the following warning labels on smokeless tobacco packaging and advertisements. They are:
Ask your students:
Conclude by telling students that you hope their knowledge of these health risks and the addictive nature of nicotine will help them make the right decision to be tobacco free.
As a group, brainstorm positive, healthy activities students can engage in as alternatives to using tobacco. For example, they could exercise, paint, draw, sing, dance … the list is endless.