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Making Choices about Tobacco Use

Martha R. Staeheli

Contents of Curriculum Unit 01.01.05:

To Guide Entry

For thy sake, Tobacco, I would do anything but die.

____Charles Lamb, A Farewell to Tobacco

To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know, I've done it a thousand times.

____Mark Twain

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Smoking causes cancer. Smoking causes heart disease. Smoking causes premature aging, shortness of breath, and smoking is hugely addictive. For years we've understood the damage that smoking causes to those who indulge. Now, we've extended the breadth of damage to those who are only in proximity to smokers. Health-related effects of smoking strain our medical budgets and availability of health services. The toll on families of smokers is enormous as they watch the ones they love fight one of the most powerful addictions we know of and as they struggle through devastating and violent illness. Tobacco's swath of destruction is more damaging than most every other controlled substance combined.

Yet, smoking is legal. Not only is it legal, it is ubiquitous in our media. Though tobacco advertising is now legally limited, we read about smoking in print, we see people smoking in magazines, we see them smoke on TV, and, most powerfully, we see actors smoke in movies all the time.

How can we reconcile our knowledge of the dangers of smoking with our acceptance of it as a major character of our media? Further, how can we balance those concerns with our values of free speech, issues of censorship, feasibility of legislation, and the role of art in our society? We haven't yet decided.

The Nature of Addiction

Drug use comes in many forms and exists along a continuum, from casual/recreational, to habit, to abuse, to addiction. Most of us have had an experience with addiction, whether as a battle we've fought or as one we've watched others fight. The word "addiction" is thrown about constantly, as in "I'm so addicted to these chips" or "I'm totally addicted to TV", but true addiction causes people to indulge in behaviors that are destructive and seemingly out of control. The nature of addiction is complex, but drug abuse is caused by biological, psychological, and social factors. It is now believed that there is some biological disposition to addiction, and that this predisposition is mediated by social and psychological factors. These factors include: trauma, stress, childhood neglect, mental health disorders, disabilities, parental drug use, and peer pressure.

The nature of addiction, however, is characterized as a chronic, progressive disease that can exist in the realms of physiology (e.g. cocaine) or psychology (e.g. our traditional thinking about the effects of marijuana). Addiction consists of the following elements: craving, loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance. A craving consists of a strong need or compulsion to use a drug, and a sense of panic or discomfort that occurs when the craving is not satiated. Loss of control is exhibited when the desire to use the drug overrides any other reasons to not use the drug, using in an inappropriate situation or time, and an inability to control these actions. Physical dependence describes those symptoms of withdrawal that occur when the drug is stopped, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, anxiety, and an inability to focus and think clearly. Tolerance occurs as increasing amounts of the drug is needed in order to satisfy craving, to feel the "high", and to stave off withdrawal symptoms.

There are several warning signs of drug addiction. They include: 1) Using the drug regularly, such as daily, or on the weekends; 2) Tolerance for the substance; 3) Failed attempts to stop using the drug; 4) Physical or psychological dependence upon the drug; and 5) Withdrawal symptoms. It is helpful to note that drug addiction often occurs as a secondary diagnosis of serious mental illness, particularly in the case of depression or bipolar disorders. However, this is not always the case.

Substance abuse and addiction affect 25 million Americans, with millions more affected by a family member or friend with a drug problem. Though our particular focus is on teen smoking, it's crucial to note statistics on national drug abuse, because teenagers who smoke are at a higher risk for developing other kinds of drug addictions. According to 1999 data, teenagers who smoke are three times more likely than nonsmokers to use alcohol, eight times more likely to use marijuana, and 22 times more likely to use cocaine. Smoking is also associated with other risky behaviors, such as fighting and engaging in unprotected sex. This data is based on correlational evidence, rather than causal, but it is still worth noting than teen smoking is a warning sign for other kinds of unsafe behaviors.

Evidence from many studies has shown us that tobacco addiction is as powerful as that of cocaine or heroin addiction. Around 80% of current smokers began before the age of 18, and 3,000 children under the age of 18 begin smoking every day. Approximately 36% of high school students smoke, as opposed to around 24% of adults. A recent University of Massachusetts study found that addiction behavior in children is stronger and faster than that of adults. Two thirds of children who begin smoking are addicted either immediately or within the first month of casual smoking. Many of those children will struggle with this addiction for the rest of their lives. Five million children alive now will die prematurely as a result of their smoking.

Questions for Discussion:

1. Why do people begin behaviors they know to be addictive?

2. What are examples of common kinds of addictions?

3. Why might children be more susceptible to addiction than adults?

4. Where might you find resources if you suspect you might have an addiction?

The Health Effects of Smoking

As educators, we've told our students for years about the risks they will take if they decide to start smoke (some of us even in contrast with our own behavior.) We warn them about horrible disease, cluck disapprovingly, and our students nod and smile and agree that smoking is a terrible habit they wouldn't indulge in. Yet, kids continue to light up and the average age of a new smoker has dropped to 12 years old.

So, what can we tell kids about the facts of smoking? The costs and effects of smoking are far-reaching, from subsidized medical care, to the dangers of second-hand smoke. Smoking causes more deaths than the combination of AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, illegal drugs, and fires. In fact, one out of every five deaths is attributable to smoking, and this is the single most preventable health problem the United States faces. More than 400,000 people die every year as a result of smoking related illnesses, at a drain of around 100 billion dollars every year for medical costs. The World Health Organization predicts that 500 million people will have died from smoking by the year 2025.

Cigarettes contain around 4,000 chemicals, including: ammonia (floor/toilet cleaner), arsenic (rat poison), formaldehyde (body tissue preserver), and hydrogen cyanide (gas chamber poison). It is the nicotine in cigarettes, however, that acts as the drug: it produces a "high" that increases blood pressure and heart rate and it is highly addictive. Because cigarettes contain so much toxic material, smoking poses a great threat to the health of the smoker. The health effects of smoking are immediate. It causes shortness of breath and asthma attacks, increased chance of tooth-loss, bad breath, premature aging, and susceptibility to infection. While smoking can exacerbate almost any illness, it is known to directly cause diseases such as heart and lung disease, stroke, and cancers of the larynx, lung, mouth, pancreas, bladder, esophagus, colon, cervix, and kidney.

And those are the effects for someone who smokes through a filter designed to keep the real poison at bay. Even more devastating are the effects second-hand smoke has on people close to the smoker. Without the benefit of the filter, non-smokers can pick up every nasty element of cigarettes. An estimated 3,000 non-smokers die every year from second-hand smoke. Every year, 300,000 children who live with smokers suffer from serious respiratory ailments (as well as having an increased risk of becoming smokers, themselves.) The fetus of a pregnant woman who smokes is more likely to be born prematurely, under-weight and possibly with birth defects.

The question then becomes, knowing how destructive cigarettes can be, why do teenagers (and adults) begin to smoke?

Questions for Discussion:

1. If we understand smoking is dangerous, why do people continue to smoke?
2. What responsibility do tobacco companies and government have for regulating smoking behaviors? For addressing resulting health concerns?
3. What causes people to begin to smoke in the first place?
4. What is it like to be near a smoker? What do you notice about the effects of second-hand smoke?

The Role of Smoking in Film

There is little question that we understand the dangers of smoking; we can no longer plead ignorance. We continue to see the prevalence of smoking in movies rise, with bigger stars, in more situations, with less plot motive, lighting up. Teenagers make up a sizable portion of moviegoers, and anyone who has spent time around teenagers understands that they're paying attention to what happens in those movies. How can we tease out causal relationships from these independent facts? It is difficult, but there are some behavioral trends that are undeniably present and powerfully describe the relationship between what teenagers see and what they do.

Perhaps you associate smoking in the movies with the glamour of Rita Hayworth or Lauren Bacall. Perhaps cigarettes in movies makes you think of the toughness of Steve McQueen or John Wayne. Perhaps you think of the role of cigarettes as atmospheric or artistic, a mediator of ambiance, romance, or tension. Chances are, however, that you can recall at least one example of cigarettes acting as movie star. Tobacco has played a role in film for as long as the medium has existed. The question is, how much of that role has been designed by tobacco interests?

The manipulation of film directors by tobacco companies has been pervasive and consistent, and the sinister elements of this partnership cannot be overlooked. Examined from another point of view, the way tobacco is incorporated into films serves as an artistic vehicle and has become almost another character in the life of movies.

There are four major ways that cigarettes become part of a movie plot. Cigarettes may be introduced in order to set an historical period. They can be used to set a mood. They can reflect the "real-life" behavior of actors. Additionally, tobacco companies often pay for product placement in movies. There are many documented cases of tobacco placement in movies. For example, the producers of the James Bond film, License to Kill took $300,000 for 007's use of Larks cigarettes in the film. The producers of Superman II were paid $40,000 by Phillip Morris for Lois Lane to chain-smoke Marlboros and to introduce the brand name 40 times during the film. Sylvester Stallone received $500,000 from a tobacco company to smoke in three of his films. Even children's movies are not immune from tobacco companies; Phillip Morris placed cigarettes in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Muppet Movie. The list can continue indefinitely.

According to a recent article in The Lancet, smoking appeared in 85% of movies, with four major American brands accounting for the majority of cigarette appearances. The rate of smoking in movies is increasing all the time, with more and more lead actors lighting up (about 75%, currently.) There is an estimated 300% more smoking in movies than in real life.

Outlined below are ways to conceptualize the artistic role of cigarettes in movies, including examples of movies that fit within these categories. Students will no doubt be familiar with many of these; they could probably generate an even larger list. Understanding the context in which an appearance by tobacco is set, it's important to understand the ways tobacco is presented to an audience on the screen. It's presence has become part of what movies are, and from that perspective, gaining insight into what that looks like is an important component of constructing a critical viewpoint of that presence.

Smoking as Glamour: Smoking portrays glamour; it is the past time of the wealthy and the beautiful, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. These films may include: James Bond films, Casablanca, LA Confidential, Metropolitan, Grand Hotel.

Smoking as Machismo and Rebellion: Smoking becomes a symbol of rebellion and toughness. This occurs in gangster movies, westerns, and war movies. Some films and actors include: The Godfather, Rebel without a Cause, Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line, and Grease.

Smoking as Artistic Metaphor: Smoking ceases to be just the inhalation of cigarettes and becomes and artistic and cinematic metaphor, as well as a plot device. These movies may include: Smoke and The Usual Suspects.

Smoking as Dilemma: As the role of cigarettes has become more complex, characters in movies have begun to wrestle with the problems of addiction and dependence, and ethical/moral responsibility. These films may include: The Insider, Traffic, Bridget Jones, Leaving Las Vegas, and Meet the Parents.

There is so much smoking in movies that it has become almost a matter of course, something we no longer think about or notice. This is not the case with children. A study at the Dartmouth Medical school examined 603 movies from 1988 to 1999, gauged the amount of smoking in each, and then interviewed 5,500 middle school students to see how their smoking behaviors would be affected. Investigators determined that children are incredibly susceptible to patterning their own behavior on what they see in the movies, because they believe a high rate of smoking to be normative. There are many speculations on why this is the case. Children want to emulate stars, they want to do what other children are doing, they want to experiment, and sometimes they self medicate. However, most children don't smoke. Arming children with information, talking about what children are seeing, what they're learning about dangerous behaviors, and the nature of their conflicts (with themselves, friends, parents, society) is an important step towards helping them make positive decisions.

Questions for Discussion:

1. What do you notice about the use of tobacco in movies? Who uses it? Under what circumstances? What is the "creative reason" behind its use?
2. Does having an awareness of tobacco use by the media make it easier to make decisions about your own tobacco use?
3. If we are strongly influenced by the media, who is responsible for the behavior of the public?
4. Can we use movies to influence us in positive ways?

Taking Action against Tobacco Use

While tobacco advertising has been limited since 1970, there are no laws currently that address the use of cigarettes/tobacco in films. In fact, it is difficult to imagine that there will ever be legislation or case law that limits the freedom of movie producers to that degree. Movies portray all kinds of unconscionable and/or criminal behaviors: abuse, drug use, murder, violence, and rape. But movies also use rating systems to alert audiences to the presence of these (potentially) objectionable elements. And the portrayal of these things is, by regulation, different than actual and live capture and distribution of these scenes on film.

"Art" has traditionally been held to different standards in terms of its content than newspapers, TV shows, and school curricula. However, the question of what art is exactly has never been agreed upon. Books have always been censored for content and language. Rap music has been analyzed and rated and warned against. Movies are rated for content. This is an issue that has always been of interest to the American public; the tension between First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and concerns for "decency", "appropriateness", "desirability", and "exposure." Artists cannot necessarily be censored for the content of their art. But they can make choices about what to include in the art they produce; balancing aesthetics with ideas about what their artistic, cultural, political, and personal values are.

The anti-smoking-in movies group Smoke Screeners recommends four things that should be required of movies that portray smoking. They believe that movie theaters should be required to run anti-smoking ads (not produced by tobacco companies) before any movie that contains smoking. They believe that tobacco brand names should never be mentioned in movies and they want all movies containing tobacco to receive an MPAA rating of "R." Further, they would like to see all movies containing tobacco to certify no-payoffs; that is, to declare that no goods or services were traded by anyone associated with the film in exchange for the placement of tobacco in the movie.

Due to the tide of lawsuits leveled against tobacco companies for negligence, endangerment, bad business practices, and other unconscionable behaviors, tobacco companies are finding themselves in an uncomfortable position. They manufacture a highly addictive and damaging drug that is legal, in a climate that will not allow them advertise. Is this censorship? If this trend continues, how else can tobacco companies advertise except by placing cigarettes in movies? What choices are we leaving tobacco companies and smokers?

Questions for Discussion:

1. Is it the responsibility of artists and the media to portray what is in our best health interests?
2. Who should decide if/how/when to limit tobacco advertising and media presence? How can we balance the freedoms of tobacco companies with our responsibilities to the public and to children?
3. What will it take to discourage people from smoking or from continuing to smoke?
4. Is limiting tobacco use in art a form of censorship? Is censorship okay if it protects the public health?

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Unit Overview and Objectives

In this unit, designed for grades 8-10, we explore the dangers of using cigarettes, the nature of addiction, the role of the media in helping us make decisions, and what all of this means for our children. This unit is designed as the beginning of a comprehensive anti-smoking education course, with concentration on the dangers of smoking, smoking statistics, and the manner in which most children gain knowledge of smoking, through films. We will focus on the questions that arise from placing dangerous products in an easily accessible public art form with wide distribution. Particularly, we will focus on the history of cigarettes in movies, issues of governmental regulations concerning drug placement in movies, artists' responsibilities to the public and public health, artistic considerations in using these products, and examination of public behavior in reaction to film. These questions will be considered through the lens being conscious of what we watch and what we can do to solve the questions and problems we generate as a result of the unit work.

Throughout the work of the unit, we will focus on four Unit Questions:

If we understand the dangers of smoking, why do we (as a government/society) allow people the option of smoking if they wish?
How does the portrayal of smoking in films affect the choices that we make? Should art reflect our "best" interests or should it have license to portray anything?
Should we regulate the use of tobacco? How?
What is the most effective way to keep kids from smoking?

Students are used to thinking about what they shouldn't be doing. They are exposed to (sometimes) ample education on issues of illegal drug use, teen sexuality, drinking, gang-related activities, the benefits of staying in school, and the list continues. They know what they are supposed to do and what they're supposed to avoid, but that isn't necessarily good enough.

Part of negotiating the choppy waters between teenage-dom and adulthood is gaining understanding of what we value and how these values interact with the complexity of the world. We know what we want for our students: their physical safety, their emotional health, and their intellectual sustainability and growth. Our challenges begin when students begin to make choices about what these things (safety, health, growth) mean for them in their lives.

This unit is designed as a platform from which issues of medical ethics, regulation, social values, and film can be discussed with current health issues and concerns. The curriculum should provide a common vocabulary by which students can engage in critical thinking about their own and others' belief systems, and can provide opportunities to discuss such issues as: peer pressure, decision making, and values. Students should begin to think about and discuss more complex issues related the reflective relationship between art and society and how these elements interact in our lives to change our viewpoints and behavior. Particularly, students should begin to question the ways in which we form ideas, critically examine the information we're given, and mediate what we see and hear with questions and flexibility.

In addition to the content described above, this curricular unit focuses on four core habit-of-mind objectives for students:

Improved literacy
Improved communication
Improved critical thinking skills
Improved understanding of their place in the world

Understanding that cigarettes are harmful isn't always a good enough deterrent to smoking; most people have engaged in behaviors that are counter to their best interests. But understanding why we see smoking as desirable, how we are manipulated, and how we can make decisions that are aligned with what we want for ourselves is a more effective way to help teenagers make choices.

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Unit Strategies

The objectives outlined above aren't easily covered in an entire class, let alone a unit. They are the work of a lifetime of education. Perhaps, then, it is more useful to think of a unit as a stone in a wall that is mortared with the educational objectives of literacy, communication, critical thinking, and understanding of place in the world. This unit is designed only as one piece of that wall.

The work of this unit consists mainly of discussion around the five Unit Questions, and it is these questions that form the bulk of the work around the larger Unit Objectives. As seen below in the three sample lesson plans and supplementary activities, this work will be done primarily through: 1) Class discussion; 2) Watching films; 3) Analytical writing; and 4) Group presentation.

Class Discussion

The issues discussed in this unit can become easily mired in our own preconceptions, value systems, biases, and reasoning. The class will usually generate more, and better ideas, together than individual students might on their own. Class discussion allows for the sharing of these ideas in such a way that, if done correctly, everyone's ideas and opinions will be heard and students will be exposed to ideas they wouldn't have otherwise considered. It is often during discussion that students will begin to open up their minds to possibility of the "other" and begin to examine the issues from another's point of view. In order for this unit to be successful, students must begin to question their own thought processes. Another student in the class, asking questions, challenging assumptions, and wondering "well, but why", can sometimes best introduce this concept.

Watching Films

Because this unit has a focus of the role of cigarettes in films, some class time will need to be devoted to watching movies and learning to discuss them, analyze them, and question them. Often, movies are seen as a classroom babysitter. This topic requires that film-watching be an active process, with allowances for stopping the film to discuss, students asking questions, analyses of particular scenes, and taking notes and writing down ideas during the film. The movies required for this unit can be easily found in a local video store, and some may be in the school or local library. It is rarely necessary to show the entirety of a movie to understand and analyze the presence of cigarettes in the film. Some films, such as The Insider lend themselves to being watched in entirety. (See Resource List for possible films). As always with movies, it is important to preview the film for appropriateness and check with administrators and/or parents when questions arise.

Analytical Writing

Analytical writing provides students with an opportunity to think critically about the films they've seen, demonstrate what they learn, and practice communicating their ideas effectively to others. It also provides teachers with an opportunity for assessment of students' work. It is important in this unit for students to practice the thought processes involved in writing: sorting out thoughts, constructing logical writing, learning writing structures and research techniques, and committing to a point of view.

Group Presentation

Working in groups is often challenging for students (and most adults), but it relies on several important skills: cooperation, dividing up tasks, sharing ideas, etc. Group work can expose students to new ideas and new ways of working through questions and problems that arise. Particularly for a topic such as smoking, it is important for students to share their ideas with others, to shed light on their questions and dilemmas, and to generate effective ideas for limiting teen smoking.

A Note about Classroom Activities

The topic of tobacco raises a lot of complex issues for kids and parents. It is often the subject of charged debate and passionate feelings. When presenting a unit to encourage kids not to smoke, there are several factors that should be kept in mind.

1. Telling students that they're "bad" or "dumb" for smoking is never a good idea. Shame is not an effective deterrent for risky behavior.
2. Smoking remains a legal behavior. Denouncing smokers can lead to parental alienation and can set up conflicts for the children or friends of smokers.
3. Using threatening language about the long-term consequences of smoking (e.g. "You will die a horrible death if you do this. . .) is usually ineffective and can lead to the alienation of the student.
4. Beware of sending mixed messages if you, yourself, are a smoker. It's never a good idea to engage in unhealthy behaviors in front of your students, as you're a powerful role model. Talking about your own experiences, when appropriate, may help students understand some of the complexities of this issue.
5. Giving students time and space to generate their own ideas about smoking, learn about the risks, and make conscientious decisions is the safest course for a teacher. Remember, you're giving them the tools they need to make good decisions in their own lives.

Classroom Activity #1: Media Awareness and Literacy


We are all exposed to media constantly, in the form of TV, movies, ads, books, magazines, and radio. Because we are so inundated, it is sometimes difficult to think critically and reflectively about what we see and hear. This lesson is designed to increase students' awareness of and critical thinking about elements of media, particularly in advertising and movies. Students will be asked to examine print media and movies to determine the methods and messages used.


At the end of this lesson, students should:

1. Think critically about the messages and methods advertisers, particularly tobacco companies, use in order to sell their products.
2. Analyze the use of cigarettes in movies.
3. Reflect on how we make decisions and what causes people to engage in risky behaviors like smoking.
4. Demonstrate increased media literacy.


This project is flexible in terms of its timing. It can range from around 2-4 class periods.

Materials Needed

Butcher Paper

Colored Markers


Old Magazines

TV Commercials


1. Several days before you begin, ask students to bring in old magazines.
2. Generate a list of five open-ended and provocative questions about the media and write them on the top of five big pieces of butcher paper. Examples of questions might be:
____a. What is "media"? What is "propaganda"? How can you tell the difference?
____b. Should media be allowed to portray things that are unhealthy for us?
____c. Who should decide how and by whom media is controlled?
____d. Do you ever make decisions based on what you see in the media? Explain.
____e. What are the qualities of a media celebrity you most want to emulate?
3. Students should write their responses directly on the paper in colored markers. After everyone has finished, you can review students' responses to the questions as a class discussion. Encourage students to talk openly about their Students can choose one or two questions to expand upon for homework.
4. Using the attached worksheet, ask students to take notes on ten TV commercials and to look through their magazines and find examples of: cigarette ads, ads students feel are effective, and ads students feel are not effective. Students and teacher can collect magazines. The teacher can collect several advertisements recorded off of the TV to ensure the quality and range s/he's looking for.
5. As a class, fill in one or more of the worksheets, in order to model the activity and to draw students' attention to key elements of the advertising.
6. After completing the worksheet, ask students to work in groups of around four students. Students should share the ads they've collected. As a group, students should generate a comprehensive list addressing the following questions:
____a. What do your ads have in common? How are they different?
____b. Do similar products use similar advertising methods?
____c. What kinds of people are used in the ads?
____d. What kinds of claims do the advertisers make? How do you know if these claims are true or false?
____e. Who might be susceptible to believing which ads?
____f. What are the three most important things to look for when you look at TV or magazine advertisements?
7. Student groups should post their lists on the walls to keep as a reference as you move through the unit. As a class, discuss each group's findings.


Students should be evaluated on the following:

1. Their completion of the five butcher paper questions (and two extra writing expansions.)
2. The quality and completeness of their media literacy worksheets.
3. Their participation in group work.

Worksheet and Supplementary Materials:

Student Handout #1: Media Literacy and Awareness

Directions: As you examine TV and magazine advertisements, answer the questions below. You may use as many sheets as you like, but you must have examined a total of ten advertisements, and they must include examples of: cigarette ads, ads you feel are effective, and ones you feel aren't effective.

Advertisement # _____Form of Media:_____________

1. Describe the advertisement. What does it look like? What people and objects appear in the ad? How is the ad organized?
2. What is the name of the product being advertised? Have you heard of this product before?
3. Who makes this product?
4. What does the product do? How do you know?
5. How does the advertiser get the message across? What methods are being used?
6. Is this an effective advertisement? Why or why not?
7. Would you consider buying this product? How much influence does this particular advertisement have on your desire for the product?

Classroom Activity #2: Tobacco Moot Court


This lesson is designed to encourage flexible and critical thinking as students take on opinions they do not necessarily agree with and to construct clear and logical supports for those opinions. Students will be assigned roles, representing "Big Tobacco" or "Consumers" to an appellate court.


At the end of this lesson, students should:

1. Have gained more insight and information into the "players" in the tobacco debate.
2. Organize their oral presentations and arguments in a clear, complete, and logical manner to effectively communicate their ideas.
3. Engage effectively in group work.
4. Build on research and literacy skills in preparing for debate.


Time should be allocated for: reviewing the assignment, library research, team debate preparation, practice, and debate performance. The duration of this project will vary depending on the demands of the classroom. The moot trial preparation should take 1-2 class periods. The court hearing should take one day. The judges final, written decision can be due the next day or presented immediately.

This project can take from 3-6 class periods.

Materials Needed

Case outline and background

Access to library materials

Worksheets describing the moot court process


1. Distribute the background sketch of the case provided. Discuss the issues presented in the case, as well as the facts of the case.
2. Divide the class into groups: attorneys for petitioner, attorneys for respondent, justices, and court observers.
3. Distribute handout on how to conduct a moot court. Discuss the content, insuring that they understand the process involved in this activity. Tell the students that this will be an appellate court, or a court that does not hear new evidence but reviews decisions that have already been handed down by lower courts. An example of an appellate court (most of the time) is the Supreme Court.
4. Distribute copies of statements released into the media representing each side. Assign pro and ante groups for the issue. Distribute also a copy of a relevant Supreme Court decision.
5. Students should have time to research their positions in the library. Have them look through current periodicals, essays on the subject, legal documents, and books written on juvenile issues and law.
6. Students can prepare their positions by writing down arguments, practicing who will make what arguments, and anticipating their opponents' responses.
7. Instruct the justices to review the cases.
8. Conduct the moot court hearings. Students who are neither justices nor attorneys can prepare interviews and news reports for the presentation and preparation portion of the assessment.
9. After the cases have been argued, allow time for the justices to deliberate and prepare a decision. Have one justice write the majority opinion and one write a dissenting opinion (if any).
10. Students should evaluate the process using the form below.
11. Debrief the activity by having a class discussion in which you may ask:
____ How were the decisions made?
____ What kinds of people make the decisions?
________* Who sits on the judicial review or the Supreme Court?
____ How might the positions of the justices affect the decision?
________* How might that decision affect the life of an American teen-ager?
____ How "fair" is this process?
________* Where might there be problems?
________* What might work? Would any other process work better?
____ Are all opinions represented in this kind of process?
____ What might the possible outcomes be depending on what the justices decided?
____ Who will be affected by the decision?
____ What are the possible outcomes in "real life"?
12. Have students write a 1-2 page paper in which they explain the decision that they would make had they been one of the justices. They should use the evidence that they've collected from their research, as well as vivid examples. They should also include their opinions about the effectiveness of the trial procedure based on the form below.


Students will be evaluated on:

The quality of their participation and preparation for the court.
The thoughtfulness of their evaluations
The effectiveness and thoughtfulness of their written responses.

Worksheets and Supplementary Materials

Student Handout #1: The Case Description and Supreme Court Decisions

The Case Description (from composite cases)

Thomas Fairwether, from Seattle, Washington has been a smoker for the last fifty years. He began smoking at the age of 12 and has tried to quit many times, without success. Now, at the age of 62, Mr. Fairwether is facing many medical problems. He has had his larynx removed, due to cancer. He has emphysema that continues to worsen. He has had bouts with colon cancer and stomach cancer. His doctors, and available medical evidence, believe that all of his medical problems are due to his smoking. Unfortunately, Mr. Fairwether is not able to quit smoking, due to the addictive nature of cigarettes. Mr. Fairwether has taken the maker of his cigarettes, Tobacco, Inc., to court in order to finance the medical treatments that his insurance will no longer cover, as well as pain and suffering for Mr. Fairwether and his family. The lower court has determined that Tobacco, Inc. is liable for damages in the amount of 10 million dollars to compensate Mr. Fairwether for medical expenses and suffering. Tobacco, Inc. has appealed this ruling to your court because they feel Mr. Fairwether is responsible for his own behavior leading to his medical problems and because they feel this ruling will prompt every smoker to sue tobacco companies.

Your Task

Regardless of your role in this moot court, there are many questions you need to know in order to represent your client, decide the case, or judge the participants. As a class, decide what kind of information you need to know. As a team, repeat the process.

What does Thomas Fairwether want?

What does Tobacco, Inc. want?

Question 1:

Question 2:

Question 3:

Question 4:

Question 5:

Student Handout #2: Conducting a Moot Court

For the purposes of this exercise, we will be conducting a moot appellate court. In an appellate court, no witnesses are used and no new evidence may be presented. The attorneys for both sides will present their oral arguments before the judges.

The court will consist of a panel of justices. One will be a Chief Justice. There will be a team of attorneys for the petition and one for the respondent. The remainder of the class can be observers or reporters for the TV station or local newspapers.

Roles and Responsibilities

At any time the judges may question the attorneys about the case. The Chief Justice will maintain the order of the court, extend the time limit for attorneys if requested, set down the rules of the court, and assign judges to write the majority and dissenting opinions. Judges may express their opinion about the case; they may also try to convince the other judges to side with them.

The attorneys must try to defend their side. The petitioner's attorney should show why the client's treatment was in error, and how that treatment violated the Constitution or state statute. Previous court decisions may be used to back up presentation.

Respondent's attorneys must try to present arguments that best represent their client's position. Previous court decisions may be used to back up presentation. Both sides should discuss the facts o f the case.

The rest of the class will take notes and turn in a new article or interview with role players.


Each team of attorneys will be given time to prepare their cases. They should research all material dealing with the case.

Each side of the case (petitioner and respondent) will have 20 minutes to present their arguments; 10 minutes can then be used for rebuttal and debate. It will go as follows

20 minutes: Petitioners must present their cases using the case outline provided, their research, and their formal arguments. Every attorney on the team must present.

10 minutes: The respondents may rebut any of the petitioners' arguments, to which the petitioners may respond.

20 minutes: Respondents must present their cases.

10 minutes. The petitioners may rebut any of the respondents arguments, to which the respondents may respond.

The Justices will ask any final questions and the deliberate.

Justices will present their response and decision.

The judges will then meet and deliberate on the case. This may be done in private or in front of the class. If the deliberation is in front of the class, the judges will be the only ones allowed to speak.

After the deliberation the Chief Justice will give the opinion. The Chief Justice will assign justices to write a majority and minority opinion which will be read the to class later.

Student Handout #3: The Evaluation Form

1. Who would your decision have been in favor of?

2. Which team had the best presentation? Why?

3. Which team had the best delivery? Why?

4. Which team had the most convincing arguments? Why?

5. Which team had the best rationale?

6. Which team seems to have done the most research? How could you tell?

7. Which team reacted best to the judges' questioning?

8. Did the quality or effectiveness of the presentations affect your opinion on the decision?

9. Do you agree with the judges' decisions? Did their written majority decision convince you? Was it reasonable? Why or why not?

Classroom Activity #3: Developing an Anti-Smoking Campaign


As students learn about the dangers of smoking, they should be thinking about effective ways to stop kids from beginning to smoke. This lesson will give them a chance to think creatively about anti-smoking campaigns and to compile their ideas into a gallery display.


At the end of this lesson, students should:

1. Think creatively about effective communication; how to get a message across, what works and doesn't.
2. Be critical of their own ideas about smoking and decision-making, values, and goals.
3. Understand their personal power in making decisions.
4. Write a clear and effective analytic essay.


This project will last approximately 3 class periods.

Materials Needed

Materials will vary by group.


1. Based on what students have learned during the course of this unit, the class should brainstorm ideas about what students feel will be the most effective way to deter kids from smoking.
2. Students should be divided into groups of around four. Their assignment is this: As a group, determine what you believe to be the most effective medium for transmitting an anti-smoking message (magazine ad, TV ad, public service announcement, poster, TV show, movie, etc.) Create a "mock-up" of a presentation designed to do this. There will be a tremendous range in the kinds of projects students will produce. The guidelines for this project are described below.
3. Individually, students should also be working on an essay designed to explain their ideas. This essay is outlined and described below.
4. Students should present their projects to the class.


Evaluation for this project will be based on the following: (rubrics for this evaluation are included below):

Effectiveness and quality of the group project.
Effectiveness of group process.
Quality and thoughtfulness of the essay.

Student Handout #1: The Group Project

Imagine that you've been put in charge of creating a campaign to prevent kids from smoking. What would be the most effective way to accomplish that? Conversely, what won't work? As you begin to think about communicating your message, please keep the following in mind:

Think about the audience you're targeting for this project? Who are they? What do they care about? What makes them pay attention?
As a group, decide on the most effective medium for your message.
What is your message? How can you make it short and to the point, attention grabbing, and effective?
What elements need to be included in your presentation? Do you want a famous spokes-person? A "real" person? Abstract ideas or concrete facts?
What will your campaign look like or sound like? How will you know it's effective?
How do you want to present these ideas to the class?

You will be given a group grade for your presentation, which will be graded as follows:

Group Members: _________________________________________________________

Title of Campaign:________________________________________________________

Your project will be graded independently of your presentation, comprising 25% of your grade. The presentation of your campaign is worth 25% of your grade for this project. For each criterion, you will be awarded up to five points. The points are given as follows:


5 points= Excellent Work

4 points= Good Work

3 points= Average

2 points= Needs Improvement

1 point= Little Effort Shown

0 points= No Effort/Not Gradable

(chart available in print form)

Student Handout #2: The Writing Assignment

You've had a chance to think about the issues involved in the tobacco industry, in smoking, and in the role tobacco plays in our media. Now, your assignment it to write an essay describing your own thoughts and opinions on this subject. You may write an essay on any topic we've discussed during this unit, as long as you check with me first. Below, I've provided a couple of topics and questions to get you started:

Who's right: tobacco interests or consumer groups? (think about our Moot Court)
Why do people use substances like tobacco, when we know how dangerous they are?
Who should be in charge of public health? What roles and responsibilities do schools, governments, artists, parents, individuals have in determine our behavior?
How can the rate of smoking be decreased?
How does the media affect the decisions we make?
Below, I have provided an outline of how to approach writing an essay. While this may seem elementary, it will help you anticipate what I'm looking for in this essay. The topic for this essay has already been assigned to you. You now have to determine how to incorporate your ideas into the outline I've given you.

An essay is a form of writing usually broken down into three, four, five, or more paragraphs that express your opinion about a given subject. You must always choose a thesis or theme (main idea) and then prove it through examples. For this essay, you should use at least five quotes to support your ideas. An essay should always include an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph. A complete paragraph should include at least five to ten sentences. Use a thesaurus so that you do not repeat the same words too often.

Remember that this is only a structure for your ideas- you don't need to, nor should you, feel bound by it. While essays need structure, they also need your own new ideas and explorations. (Incidentally this outline is a good guide for almost any kind of writing or essay!)

Introduction Paragraph

Provide a brief, specific description of the subject. Keep in mind that the reader does not know the subject matter.
State your thesis (what you will prove) clearly and in an interesting way.
____* The thesis statement tells the reader what the essay will be about, and what point you, the author, will be making. You know what the essay will be about. That was your topic. Now you must look at your outline or diagram and decide what point you will be making. What do the main ideas and supporting ideas that you listed say about your topic?
____* Your thesis statement will have two parts.
________ The first part states the topic.
____________ Tobacco
____________ The media
____________ The government
________ The second part states the point of the essay.
____________ Is a dangerous product
____________ has no effect on our decisions
____________ should stay out of our lives

Body Paragraphs

Start by writing down one of your main ideas, in sentence form.
If your main idea is "personal responsibility" you might say this:

We all should take personal responsibility for behaviors like smoking.

Next, write down each of your supporting points for that main idea.
____* Supporting Point: Government can't legislate morality
In the space under each point, write down some elaboration for that point.
Elaboration can be further description or explanation or discussion.

____* Elaboration: Though laws may be in place to keep people from smoking, people will continue to act in whatever way they see fit. All we can do is hold people accountable for their own actions.
If you wish, include a summary sentence for each paragraph. This is not generally needed, however, and such sentences have a tendency to sound stilted, so be cautious about using them.

Last Paragraph

Restate your thesis statement (topic sentence) in a new way.
As a closing to your conclusion, relate your thesis to the present or future, or to your own life now.
Last Notes and Reminders: We will be doing some work with peer-editing and revision, so be prepared to re-write this essay several times. Please type the final version of your essay. Use Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font and double-space it.

This will be due on:_____________________________________________

Supplementary Classroom Activities:

Obviously, it is impossible to outline all of the possible activities that might accompany a curricular unit. Below are some ideas for activities that might be used in conjunction with the larger projects described above.

1. Brain Storms: These give students the chance to think out loud and to express their opinions. Beginning with something provocative will usually get the class started on a good class discussion
2. Cigarette Addiction Interviews: Students can interview family members, friends, etc. about their experiences with cigarette addiction. This can be in the context of their personal battle or the battle of someone they've known well.
3. Guest Speaker: Having a "real" person come to class to discus his/her battle with tobacco can be an effective illustration of how difficult this addiction is. Contact your local hospital, cardio-pulmonary clinic, or speech clinic to determine if speakers are available for this purpose.
4. Journaling: Have students keep a journal of how many times and in how many ways they see cigarettes during the course of a week or two. Draw their attention to the tobacco presence in our society: on TV, in commercials, in books and magazines, in public.
5. Watching Films in Class: If time and circumstances permit, this can be an invaluable demonstration for students of how to examine films critically for their use of tobacco products. Students can record the number or times cigarettes, dchewing tobacco, or cigars are used and by whom.

Resources for Teachers and Students

Online Resources

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)

Center for Media Literacy

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Division of Adolescent and School Health

Office on Smoking and Health

Entertainment Industries Council

UCSF, Tobacco Control Archives

Media Education Foundation

Screen Actors Guild

SLAM! Records

Thumbs Up! Thumbs Down! Project at American Lung Association of Sacramento, CA

The Center for Disease Control

Smoke Screeners

The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health-1999

Books to Read for Teachers

Smoking in adolescence: images and identities, by Barbara Lloyd
Controlling legal addictions, a symposium of The Eugenics Society of London
Smoking and Society: toward a more balance assessment, edited by Robert D. Tollison.
Cigarette smoking among teen-agers and young women, by the National Cancer Institute
Arrested Development; pop culture and the erosion of adulthood, by Andrew Calcutt
The Smoking Book, by Lesley Stern
No Smoking, by Robert Goodin

Movies (for Teachers to Preview)

James Bond films
LA Confidential
Grand Hotel
The Godfather
Rebel without a Cause
Apocalypse Now
The Thin Red Line
The Usual Suspects
The Insider
Bridget Jones
Leaving Las Vegas
Meet the Parents

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