Smoking can be severely detrimental to your health, due both to the effects of directly smoking and second hand smoke. A major lesson in primary and secondary school that teachers try to instill in students is the dangers of smoking. There are several projects students can undertake to help appreciate that danger.
Reports on Fatal Diseases
Smoking tobacco can cause a number of diseases. One way to illustrate this is to assign students to prepare reports on all the different diseases smoking can cause and present them to the class. Some of the fatal diseases include lung cancer and throat cancer, and recent studies have also linked smoking to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Presentations should include information on the nature of the disease, odds of survival, and the symptoms the patient will suffer.
Academic knowledge of diseases and what they can do to you is one thing. Actually seeing what the diseases can do to you is another matter altogether. Having students interview individuals who suffer from diseases caused by smoking can have a certain "scared straight" effect. Telling students they could suffer from throat cancer isn't the same thing as seeing someone who breathes through a hole in his throat, just as telling someone about emphysema isn't the same as seeing someone who can barely breathe.
One way of combining academic knowledge with practice is to have students use computers and media programs to create their own public service announcements (PSAs) about the dangers of smoking. Students can write their own scripts, create their own story lines, and do their own research for statistics and figures to include in the announcements. At the end of the project, when everyone is done, the different groups should take turns showing their PSAs to the class.
The History of Smoking Dangers
While many people today know about the dangers of smoking, this knowledge has not always been widely known. Students can prepare presentations on the history of medical attitudes towards smoking. These can include older beliefs, such as doctors who promoted certain benefits of smoking until research began linking smoking to cancer. Reports can also cover the events that led to the Surgeon General's warning on cigarette boxes, as well as efforts by the tobacco industry to challenge the research showing the harmful effects of smoking.
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