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.
Your students know that there are health consequences with tobacco use, but do they know the specifics? Do they think smoking-related diseases and illnesses can affect only adults or people who have smoked for years?
The risks are serious! Health consequences such as cancer, heart disease, and emphysema11 will give your students something to think about—especially if they are considering or currently using tobacco.
To introduce this activity, ask students what they think of when they hear the word “tobacco.” Refute any notions that smoking is “appealing” by referencing the health consequences listed under “Talking About It.”
For example, if a student says smoking is appealing because it makes people look “cool,” ask what’s cool about a person whose hair and clothes reek of smoke and who coughs all the time.
Share the digital activity link and ask students to answer the questions independently.
Review the answers as a class.
Answers, Numbers 1–8
1) Using tobacco can cause me to have bad breath (halitosis), stained teeth, and__________.
a. Oily skin
b. Bleeding in the mouth
Stained teeth, bad breath, and bleeding in the mouth are all consequences of using tobacco.8
2) If I smoke, I am at risk for the following disease(s):
a. Heart disease
b. Lung cancer
c. Emphysema (a lung condition resulting in labored breathing and susceptibility to infection)
d. All of the above
All of the diseases listed are health consequences of tobacco use.9
3) If I smoke, the toxins released from cigarette smoke travel_________.
a. To my heart
b. To my lungs
c. Everywhere the blood flows in my body
The toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke travel throughout the body.10
4) If I use a smokeless tobacco, I am at risk for the following disease(s):
a. Gum disease
b. Mouth sores
c. Cancer of the mouth
d. All of the above
All of these diseases can be caused by smokeless tobacco.11
5) In the U.S., ______ is the leading preventable cause of death.
b. Cigarette smoking
Cigarette smoking is responsible for about 1 out of 5 deaths per year in the U.S., or about 480,000 deaths.12
6) Secondhand smoke exposure kills people in the U.S.
Each year about 41,000 of the 480,000 deaths noted in number five are the result of secondhand smoke.12
7) Throughout the world, tobacco use results in approximately _____deaths per year.13
a. 1 million
b. 5.4 million
c. 10 million
Worldwide, approximately 5 million people die each year resulting from tobacco use.13
8) Nicotine is a chemical found in tobacco that is__________.6
a. Not harmful
b. Addictive for adults only
c. Addictive for adults and young people
Nicotine is an addictive drug that can affect adults and young people. Most young people who smoke regularly are addicted to nicotine.6
Answers and Correct Statements, Letters A—F
A) TRUE. Nicotine is a drug.
B) TRUE. A person’s blood sugar and breathing rate are both increased by nicotine.
C) FALSE. In order to be “True,” the statement should say: Neurons are also referred to as brain cells.
D) TRUE. The limbic system is the brain’s pleasure and reward circuit.
E) FALSE. In order to be “True,” the statement should say: Without nicotine, a smoker feels irritable and depressed.
F) TRUE. Nicotine causes the same changes in the brain as heroin and cocaine.
Review the information about nicotine addiction with your students. According to the CDC, “many children and adolescents do not understand the nature of tobacco addiction and are unaware of, or underestimate the important health consequences of tobacco use”. Emphasize that tobacco addiction is real that it can and does happen to young people-it’s not just an adult issue. The safest way to avoid addiction is never to use tobacco.
Have your students research testimonials from people who use(d) tobacco and have tried to quit—successfully or unsuccessfully. Understanding the plight of others may deter some students from using tobacco.