Tobacco and the environment

Many young people will be aware of the health impact of smoking but will not have considered the effects that tobacco production has on the environment. Being the decision makers of tomorrow, involving young people in environmental issues is important. If young people are educated in the effects of cigarettes on the environment this adds strength to their future decisions to remain smoke free.

This lesson focuses around young people undertaking their own research and deciding which facts are the most important to them. It encourages them to share their information with the rest of the group in a way that is engaging to their peers.

Purpose of session

To help young people to develop their own understanding and opinion regarding the long term impact of tobacco on their world.

Key learning outcomes

  1. Describe the main processes involved in tobacco production and give examples of how it can impact the environment.
  2. Give specific facts on the impact that tobacco has on the environment and express a personal opinion about it.
Stage 1 - Demonstrating knowledge

How tobacco is grown and produced

Resources needed:

PowerPoint projector.

Key learning outcome

Describe the main processes involved in tobacco production and give examples of how it can impact the environment.
  • Ask pupils ‘What is tobacco?’ to establish a basic understanding that tobacco is the leaf in a cigarette that contains nicotine amongst other chemicals (Slide 3).
  • Ask pupils ‘How is smoking bad for the environment?’ Take feedback from the group to establish any previous knowledge.
  • Use Slides 5 to 11 to present a basic understanding of the main steps in tobacco production.

Stage 2 - Presenting new Information and reflecting

The environmental impact of tobacco

Resources needed:

PowerPoint projector.

Key learning outcome

Give specific facts on the impact that tobacco has on the environment and express a personal opinion about it.
  • Split class into 4 groups. 1.Litter; 2.Pesticides/Fertilisers; 3.Use of land; 4.Pollution.
  • Ask each group to use the internet to research 4 “shocking” facts/statistics on how tobacco impacts their chosen area. Refer to useful resources list for websites.
  • Choose one fact to produce an eye catching A4 poster to inform smokers about how tobacco affects the environment.
  • Groups to present 4 “shocking” facts to the class and explain their poster.
  • Encourage reflection ‘Do you think adults who smoke know the impact on the environment and do you think it might help them to quit if they did?’

Further support

This lesson is best carried out alongside Tobacco and the Developing World and The True Cost of smoking A short reflection on previous learning on smoking would make a good introduction. Be aware that you may need to allocate time at the end of the session for any concerned pupils who have family members who smoke.

Further information

If pupils need further information about smoking in general you can direct them to the Hampshire NHS Stop Smoking Service, Quit4Life or The Filter for information about smoking for young people.