Do Projects, Activities, & Papers
Topic Ideas for Papers and Discussions
Although schools typically relegate the subject of tobacco to the realm of health education, in fact, the problems arising from tobacco and tobacco use are so vast and complex that they pervade every aspect of our culture. They need to be attended to accordingly. We encourage you to use this modest guide as a springboard for addressing tobacco in all relevant areas of your school curriculum. Note: If you're speaking to others, in the classroom or in everyday life, effective messages about tobacco can often be communicated simply with a comment, a look, a gesture, or a question. I invite you to expand the following list with your experiences and suggestions. Just send us an e-mail.
- Where do current attitudes about tobacco come from?
- How has tobacco been portrayed in literature, poetry, and drama? How do we see tobacco used in movies, videos, TV programs, and computer games? Who benefits when tobacco companies pay money to show people using their products?
- How have American people (children and adults) been influenced by the above?
- How has tobacco been used by the Native Americans? For what purposes? What is the relationship between tobacco and the Indian Reservations today? What is the history of the tobacco industry in the US? Where do you see the influence of tobacco in the architecture of our government buildings? How has the tobacco lobby influenced the decisions of our lawmakers? In other Countries?
- What has happened to other products that are found to be harmful?
- Ask a physician to discuss the ads in the medical journals. What drugs are for which diseases and what is causing those diseases?
- Like the tobacco industry, the drug industry is also a huge industry. What keeps the drug industry going?
- Despite knowledge that tobacco is harmful, more young people than ever are starting to smoke. Why is the lure of a self-destructive activity more compelling than warnings from parents, educators, doctors or clergy?
- What about the effectiveness of the warning labels on the ads and the packages of cigarettes?
- Who should pay the health care costs for those who ma
ke themselves by using tobacco?
- Why does our government permit the manufacture, sale and use of a product that is addictive and cancer-producing?
- What happens to the body when somebody smokes? When they use smokeless tobacco?
- Many smokers are dying of cancer today. Would they have started smoking if they had known then what they know now?
- Use scientific methods to study the effects of tobacco on air quality, the environment, and the human body.
- Analyze the chemical components in the various nicotine delivery devices: cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
- Is it OK to accept tobacco money for scientific research?
- Why did the Brown and Williamson and Phillip Morrris tobacco companies ask their research scientists to stop trying to make a safe cigarette?
- New York State is the only state to sell the new, more fire-proof cigarettes. Are they effective? Why don't the other states have them?
- Use collage techniques to "doctor-up" existing tobacco ads. Create honest ads for a beneficial product and for a tobacco product. Compare the two. Are graphic artists responsible for the ads that they create? What would you do if you were asked to create a tobacco ad?
- We can create beauty or ugliness. How does our choice influence social change?
- Check out tobacco ads that use foreign languages in this country and abroad. Is the foreign message the same as the English message?
- Check out tobacco ads in magazines from foreign countries. Are the messages the same as the English messages in ths country? Do they target the same audience? In the same way? How do they compare with the foreign language messages in this country?
- What is the role of Big Tobacco in the foreign countries? Are their practices helping or hurting those countries? Are they ethical?
- Create a budget for a nonsmoking family with two teenagers. What happens to the budget if all 4 members of the family smoke?
- In addition to the purchase price of the tobacco products, consider that smokers drink 3 times more alcohol, eat 50% more processed meat, and their health care costs and insurance premiums are higher. And then what is the cost of quitting? What are the costs, financial, social and medical, if they don't quit?
- What are the effects of passive smoke on non-smoking members of a family?
- Why are some courts ruling that exposing children to tobacco smoke is a form of child abuse, especially if the children have asthma, respiratory problems or ear infections?
- What are the home maintenence costs for a smoking household, compared with a non-smoking household. Don't forget to factor in smoke, fires, burns, cigarette trash, and increased insurance rates.
- Monitor the use of tobacco and alcohol products and their logos in TV programming, print media, the internet, and the movies.
- How often do you use these forms of communication? What is your exposure to subtle messages about tobacco and alcohol use?
- Research the Product Placement Companies that place products in the movies and TV programs to give us the illusion that everyone is doing it, that it's socially acceptable, etc. What other products have been placed? Who's being paid by whom? What are the consequences?
- What famous actor signed a contract for a huge amount of money agreeing to smoke cigarettes in his next five movies? What has this done to his career? Is he responsible when kids who see his movies start to smoke?
- Which famous performers don't smoke? Who has come out against smoking and tobacco use?
- Observe the effects of short term and long term tobacco use on performance, endurance, attitude, self-esteem and sportsmanship.
- Is it ethical for sports figures to use their good name to entice children into a harmful activity? Why do they do it? What is their responsibility to those who suffer as a result of following their lead?
- Why do baseball players use smokeless tobacco? What are the owners of the ball clubs doing to protect their financial investment?
- Search the World Wide Web for information on tobacco, smoking, tobacco advertising, tobacco sales, etc. How are tobacco companies using the Web to attract new smokers? Discuss the legality and the ethics involved.
- Get on line and see what they're saying about tobacco on the smoking cessation chat lines. Ask some questions
- Use computer graphics to create your own honest ads.and make some observations of your own.
- How have different cultures used tobacco?
- How are different cultural or ethnic groups being targeted by the tobacco companies, both here and abroad?
- Why do tobacco products that are being exported to third world countries have higher levels of nicotine than their US counterparts? And lower prices?
- Kids say that if tobacco were really all that harmful, our government wouldn't allow it. Why do they?
- Why is the US Government spending taxpayers' money on smoking cessation and tobacco prevention programs, and simultaneously spending taxpayers' money to subsidize and protect the tobacco industry?
- Why are tobacco companies allowed to take a tax deduction for advertising their products, when most of their ads are aimed at children, and that is illegal.
- Who should pay the health care costs for the sick and dying victims of tobacco use?
- Why does the FDA want to regulate tobacco as a drug? What impact would that have? Why did the Supreme Court deny FDA regulation of tobacco?
- Why is it so difficult for politicians to draft and pass responsible laws on tobacco issues? Talk about peer pressure.... How have your elected officials voted on the tobacco issues? Do they receive any pressure from tobacco-related factions in your community? From outside your community?
- How can you make your voice heard ?
- What is lobbying? Is it enlightening or corrupting? What is the goal of the tobacco lobbyists. What methods do they use to achieve their goals?
- Whose jobs are dependent upon the sale of tobacco products? Consider the businesses that feed into the tobacco growers and the manufacturers, deliverers, sellers, and advertisers of tobacco products.
- What other industries have sprung up to in order to combat the cosmetic, medical and safety problems caused by tobacco use?
- Tobacco money is funding educational institutions, sporting events, political campaigns, television stations, medical research, and cultural events that range from art museums and operas to rock concerts and rodeos. Why do some people feel that it is morally wrong to accept tobacco money...even for such worthwhile endeavors?
- During W.W.II, businesses were converted overnight to serve the military effort. What would it take to convert the tobacco industry into a health-producing, environmentally safe business? What are we waiting for?
- If people are dependent on the tobacco companies for their employment, their funding, their business, or their political support, how might they feel about speaking out on the tobacco issues?
- If tobacco companies are investing in our jobs, our culture and our leisure time activities, what do they hope to get in return?
- Why are the tobacco companies diversifying? Which companies are owned by tobacco companies?
- Discuss ecomonic censorship.
- Who is the Tobacco Institute, anyway? Do their mothers know what they're doing? How can they sleep at night? Legal documents show that tobacco company CEO's have known for a long time that nicotine is addictive? What have they done with this knowledge? What is their responsibility to the victims of tobacco addiction and their families?
- What kind of karma* are we creating for ourselves if we don't take a stand when we encounter injustice? What kind of lessons might we have to learn in the future? What kind of world will we have to live in if we don't act now?
- What can one person do that will make any kind of difference?
- What kind of karma do we reap when we create something beautiful? Or act out of loving kindness?
- Find references to tobacco or smoking in songs throughout history. Did these songs serve to popularize tobacco use? Do you see any trends? Do they coincide with other trends? (with fashion, wars or the economy, for example?)
- Write a song or create a music video that will counteract the lure of tobacco ads. ( It doesn't have to be about tobacco.)
- You might also explore the correlation between music and math. So you see any conncetion with the tobacco issues?
Here you can really shine when you look at the relationship between the amounts that people smoke and the statistical probablilities for how much they will spend on cigarettes, quit-smoking devices, medical bills, and how long it will take to get sick from different illnesses (this will require a little reseasrch for scientific data).
You can also calculate what they will save if they don't smoke...don't forget the interest you can earn if you put the money in the bank!
*Karma: an easy word for talking about the law of cause and effect; as ye sow, sow shall ye reap; your get what you give; what goes around comes around, etc.