Grades 5 & 6

Keeping Healthy

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.

Activity 2: Tobacco Use–The Health Consequences

  • Skills: Assessing Risks and Consequences
  • Suggested Time Consideration: 25 minutes
  • Rationale

    This activity outlines many of the health consequences of smoking cigarettes and using smokeless tobacco. It is designed to teach students the facts because most young people who start smoking underestimate the health consequences.7 As a result, the CDC recommends that schools provide instruction to students about the short- and long-term negative physiologic and social consequences of tobacco use.7 However, the CDC also notes that “programs that only discuss tobacco’s harmful effects or attempt to instill fear do not prevent tobacco use.”7 Therefore, a comprehensive approach to tobacco prevention is important to help keep students tobacco free.

  • Getting Started

    Share the activity link below with your class or open the activity on your interactive whiteboard. Then, review the information provided in the activity. Ask your health teacher or school nurse to join you for the activity. Have a dictionary or a health textbook on hand so students can look up unfamiliar terms and share them with the class.

    Launch Activity

  • Talking About It

    After students complete the activity, take a class poll to see which of the health consequences students knew, and which facts were unfamiliar to them. During the discussion in Activity One about reasons young people use tobacco, students might have said that young people think smoking makes them look “cool.” Explain to students that there is nothing “cool” about the health consequences of tobacco use. They are real and serious—making the decision to be tobacco free a smart one.

  • Wrapping Up

    End the lesson with a class discussion about decisions students make to be healthy and positive. Ask them what it means and why they think it is important to have a healthy, active lifestyle and good eating habits. Ask them how using tobacco would negatively affect a healthy lifestyle.

    For a complete list of health consequences related to tobacco use, visit

  • Follow-Up Activity

    After completing the digital activity, students will be asked to create digital posters presenting the facts about tobacco. Words and images will be provided after the activity to help them create the digital posters. Alternately, ask students to create paper posters. Click the thumbnail below for the link. They can use the facts and statistics from this activity and research additional health consequences on the Internet or in the school library. Ask each student to explain the words and images in his/her poster to classmates. Print the digital posters and hang them and the print posters around the classroom. Invite other classes to stop by and view the posters at your “Be Tobacco Free” art gallery.

    Launch Activity

  • Sources

    7 CDC. Healthy Youth! Health Topics. Tobacco Use: School Health Guidelines, Summary. Referenced 2012.