For more information about the understandings, essential questions, and alignment of this lesson to National Health Education Standards, State Standards, please visit our website, www.roadoflife.org



This lesson will discuss tobacco, warning labels, and long-term and short-term consequences of tobacco use. To demonstrate the significance of warning labels, please collect a few samples in advance to use in the discussion section of this lesson. However, you may wish to skip the warning label relating to pregnancy, as it may be a distraction to the lesson and prompt questions regarding pregnancy.


Explain to students that tobacco is a type of plant whose leaves are smoked in cigarettes or cigars, or chewed as chewing tobacco. Discuss the contents of a cigarette. Cigarettes contain nicotine, tar, and other harmful chemicals. These chemicals can aid in addiction or cause serious illnesses including lung, mouth, throat, and bladder cancer. Therefore, tobacco can be harmful and dangerous for the body. Have the students read the warning labels from the empty cigarette or tobacco packages.

Explain that these warning labels were created by the Surgeon General who is a health expert. Warning labels must be visible on every package of tobacco to inform the buyer of the negative consequences associated with tobacco use. Warning labels warn about long-term, or continuous, tobacco use. A cigarette contains over 4000 chemicals, over 60 of which increase the risk of cancer, emphysema and other diseases in humans and animals.

Note: Some people get these diseases even though they are not smokers; however, smoking greatly increases the risks.

Explain that in addition to these long-term negative consequences, there are also many short-term consequences. Short-term consequences appear rather quickly and can include:

•Yellowing of the teeth and fingertips from tobacco stains

•Smelly smoke-filled hair and clothing

•An increased risk of cavities and gum diseases

•Breathing difficulties

•Financial costs – cigarettes and tobacco cost a lot of money which could be spent on other things.

Teeth discoloration and the financial cost of purchasing tobacco products are the most common short-term consequences of smoking or tobacco use. Therefore, students will participate in an experiment that illustrates the process in which teeth turn yellow from tobacco use. Students will also complete a math worksheet that displays the amount of money spent from buying tobacco products over specified periods of time.

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