Ask students why people smoke. Record their answers on the chalkboard, transparency or butcher paper. Be sure the following reasons are listed:
· To look cool
· To look older
· To be adventurous/rebellious
· To see what smoking is like
· To relax and relieve stress
· Because parents/family are smoking
· Because friends are smoking
· To fit in with friends
· To seem tough
· To feel independent
Explain that unfortunately some people smoke cigarettes as a way to relieve stress. However, deep breathing is a healthy alternative that helps to reduce stress and can function to improve the immune system. Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong are specific meditative practices that incorporate deep breathing into exercise routines. Tai Chi and Qigong has been known to improve health of cancer survivors and Yoga can serve as a stress – relieving technique.
Ask students what “addiction” means.
Explain that addiction means when it is extremely difficult to stop doing something, even if you want to stop doing it. Some things have chemicals in them that are addictive. Tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco have a chemical in them called nicotine. Nicotine is very addictive. This is why it is not safe to “just try” cigarettes or tobacco products – because once you start it is extremely difficult to stop.
Explain that withdrawal is when your body readjusts to not having the chemicals in it that it has become addicted to, like nicotine for smokers or tobacco chewers. Withdrawal symptoms are very, very unpleasant. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal are:
· Inability to concentrate
· Increase in appetite (can lead to weight gain)
· Increased heart rate/Heart beats faster (need to smoke to “relax”)
· Trouble sleeping
Emphasize that if you are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes or chewing tobacco, you start to feel these things when you are not smoking or chewing tobacco. Therefore, whenever you are not smoking or chewing tobacco, you feel sick and want to smoke or chew so that you feel better. Ask students: “If smoking or chewing tobacco makes people who are addicted to these things feel better, why should they not do it?”
To reinforce these concepts students will partake in a simplified progressive muscle relaxation and breathing routine and play two interactive games. The breathing activity encourages students to focus on their breathing and since stress is a common reason people cite for smoking, this deep-breathing routine is a useful technique to reduce feelings of stress. The two interactive games teaches students the importance of having strong and healthy lungs and why people choose not to smoke.