You’ve been given the task of helping a set of parents relay the anti-smoking message to their son, Tom. They aren’t sure whether he is already smoking or he is getting ready to start. Either way, they worry that they aren’t getting through to him. Despite hearing all of the facts about smoking and the damage that it causes from his parents, his teachers, and even DARE officers, he just doesn’t seem to be getting the message. That’s where you come in! You have the challenge of communicating this message to Tom in a way that he will understand. This job is of the utmost importance. You understand all of the negative effects of smoking, and you don’t want Tom to fall into the habit.
There is no way that Tom is going to pick up a book or a newspaper to learn more about tobacco. Instead, he needs someone who will be creative in the way that they approach Tom. Remember, Tom is a lot like you. How would you like someone to communicate an important message to you? Would you listen to a rap song? Would you take some time to read and look at a poster? Here are the main things you need to do in order to get Tom’s attention and relay the anti-smoking message:
- Learn all about tobacco use and the issues that surround it. You need to become an expert.
- Create a poster or an ad that demonstrates your knowledge and relays a message to people your age about tobacco use.
- Write a persuasive editorial to be published in the local newspaper explaining your position on youth and tobacco use.
- Write a letter to tobacco companies that shows how committed you are to the cause.
- Capture Tom’s attention with a message that he isn’t going to forget. There are several options for how to communicate your message to Tom below.
Check out this detailed information that will help keep you focused on the task at hand.
- Create a journal that will help you log all of the work and effort that you are putting into this project. Make notes about what you do every day, ideas that you might have, and even questions that you might like to have answered. This journal will contain everything that you discover along the way.
- Research tobacco. (Remember, Tom isn’t going to listen to someone who isn’t knowledgeable.) Here are some important things to consider while researching:
- Diseases caused by smoking (cigars or cigarettes) and/or chewing tobacco
- Reasons people start smoking
- Reasons people continue to smoke
- Nicotine facts
- The tobacco industry: What are they doing to promote smoking? What, if anything, are they doing to prevent it?)
- Court cases involving smoking (specifically those including tobacco companies)
- Make note of anything else that you find interesting about the topic.
- Brainstorm the case to present to Tom. Think about your main message along with the facts to support your argument. What angle are you going to take?
- Find ads for tobacco products and analyze them. Consider the following questions:
- What about these ads seems to make smoking so appealing?
- Is there a direct message from the ad?
- Do you see any hidden messages (hints) that the ad is suggesting?
- Who is this ad directed toward? Does it have a specific audience? How do you know?
- Take what you’ve learned from the ads for tobacco products and see if you can come up with your own ad using some of the same techniques. (Remember, you are trying to reach a specific audience: kids your age. Take this into consideration while creating the ad.)
- Read a few editorials in a local newspaper. Think about how the author tries to get people to understand their position. What techniques are used? Now, put those ideas into practice and write your own editorial about one of the topics related to adolescent smoking. How will you persuade someone to consider your argument?
- Sometimes, it makes sense to go straight to the source. Write a general letter to all tobacco companies explaining your concerns about their influence on kids your age. Make sure that your letter contains facts and figures that will support what you are trying to get across. (This is a great time to think about what you learned while analyzing those tobacco ads!)
- With all of this research and work, it’s time to get the message across to Tom. You want to convince him to either stop smoking or avoid it if he is considering trying it out. Your case needs to be convincing, backed up with facts and data, while still being persuasive. Remember, Tom is your age, and your message needs to appeal to him. Here are some ideas how you can communicate this message to Tom:
- A skit related to young people and tobacco use
- A television commercial
- A music video complete with a song about tobacco use
- Propose your own idea for communicating with Tom
- Prepare to meet with Tom and his parents. Using everything you have done so far, convince the family that you are knowledgeable in the area of youth and tobacco use. Make sure to show your research on ads as well as your letter to the editor and to tobacco companies.
- Present your message to Tom and his family using your skit, commercial, music video, or other method of presentation. Remember, this needs to be something that Tom will not easily forget. Make sure that your message is memorable. (This presentation will be made on a designated “Youth Against Tobacco” day in class.)
Because of the task you have been given, you are going to be spending considerable time researching. Here are several links to help get you started. Remember that you need to stay on task and keep focused on your project in order to deliver the important message to Tom and his family. You don’t have any time to waste!
- The Foundation for a Smoke Free America: Tips for Quitting
- SmokeFree.gov: Prepare to Quit
- Harms of Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting
- KidsHealth: Smoking
- Center for Disease Control: Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke
- Medline Plus: Risks of Tobacco
- Smoking and Respiratory Diseases
- Adolescent Smoking (PDF)
- Cigarette Smoking: Health Risks and How to Quit
- $72.7 Billion: Smoking’s Annual Health Care Cost
- American Lung Association: Children and Teens
- Trends in Adolescent Tobacco Use
- Reducing Tobacco Use in Adolescents
- 10 Ways to Keep Teens Smoke-Free