Smoking and health

Most pupils will be aware that smoking presents a number of risks to health. They will be familiar with the links between lung cancer and smoking. However, there will be a number of less obvious smoking related illnesses of which they will be unaware. This lesson aims to increase young people’s awareness of how smoking can affect the body both long and short term. Highlighting the impact that smoking has on appearance (e.g. ageing and tooth decay) can be a  useful tool for engaging young people. An additional focus on how smoking can affect their sporting ability can also be impactful for many.

Be aware when running this lesson, that many young people will have family members who are smokers or have recently experienced the death of a family member from smoking related illness. Whilst you should not down play the risks of smoking to health, you should explain that whilst smoking increases the risk of developing illness, it does not necessarily mean someone they love will die. If they have any concerns, you should encourage them to speak to you after the lesson.

Young people are often worried that being exposed to secondhand smoke at home will cause the same smoking related illnesses. You can tell them that although secondhand smoke does affect children (e.g. more coughs and colds), the impact on the body is not as great as actually smoking themselves. A lesson plan on Secondhand smoke is available.

Purpose of session

To help young people understand the effects of smoking on health and to be aware of different attitudes to smoking.

Key learning outcomes

  1. Explain the effects of smoking on health.
  2. Explain the risks of smoking to health.
  3. Describe the different views that people have on smoking.
Stage 1 - Demonstrating knowledge

Resources needed:

  • Powerpoint projector
  • Slides
  • Large sheets of paper and pens

Key learning outcome

Explain the effects of smoking on health.
  • Using post-it notes, ask pupils to write down one way that they know smoking can affect health.
  • Read through the notes. Discuss which are the most common answers. (They are most likely to focus on lung cancer).
  • Put pupils in groups. On sugar paper, draw and label the body of a smoker from head to toe to show how smoking affects health.
  • Take feedback from each group. Use the knowledge pupils share to summarise that smoking affects the entire body and not just the lungs.
  • Present Slide 4 ‘A Smoker’s Body’ to summarise.

Stage 2 - Presenting new information

Resources needed:

  • Powerpoint projector
  • Slides
  • Internet access to links

Key learning outcome

Explain the risks of smoking to health.
  • Present Slide 4 ‘A Smoker’s Body’. Talk through head to toe the effects of smoking. For older groups of pupils, you may choose to use the WHO Smokers Body. However, check image first, as it is a graphic depiction of how smoking affects the body.
  • Using Slides 5 and 6 discuss that the risk of smoking is greater than many believe.
  • Explain that the risk of a smoker dying before the age of 65 is 50%. Ask pupils to research the risk of other activities that people consider dangerous (e.g. swimming with sharks, being eaten by a lion) and create their own ‘infographic’ on how smoking compares to other risks.
Useful links

The things most likely to kill you (The Independent)

Chances of dying infographic

Stage 3 - Applying and reflecting

Resources needed:

  • Powerpoint projector
  • Slides

Key learning outcome

Describe the different views that people have on smoking.
  • Ask pupils to anonymously write down on a piece of paper, what would be the main thing they would worry about if they were a smoker.
  • Read answers. Discuss the main areas that people have focused on.
  • Ask ‘If people know the effects of smoking, why do you think they still do it?’
  • Feedback using Slides 7 and 8. Discuss who the class know who smokes and how this information might be useful.

Further support

As a sensitive subject, remind pupils that they can speak to a teacher after class if anything upsets them.

Remind pupils who have family member who smoke that they can share new information with them.

Further information

If pupils need further information about smoking in general, you can direct them to the Hampshire Stop Smoking Service, Smokefree Hampshire.