History of Smoking

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12023

Columbus discovered what became America. Few know he also discovered one of early America's worst habits: purposely breathing in deadly smoke through burning leaves! Create an anti-smoking campaign!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Let’s start out by saying it loud and clear: Do not ever smoke! How did people come up with the idea of inhaling a substance that could kill you? Sticking burning leaves in your mouth? Come on!

If you ask the adults in your life, many of them will be able to tell you stories of public smoking — how people used to smoke anywhere they pleased, whether in homes, offices, restaurants, public buildings, at work, on buses, in college classrooms, even on airplanes!

Let’s discover how that smoky situation came about and how smoking came to be banned from nearly every enclosed public space in America.

Let's start with an important moment in the history of smoking: the point at which Europeans discovered the tobacco plant. As you watch The Origins of Tobacco - Addicted to Pleasure - BBC (BBCWorldwide) on the history of tobacco, listen for and write down answers to the following questions:

  • What famous explorer played a key role in the history of tobacco?
  • To which nation was the cultivation of tobacco traced?
  • What were the natives’ beliefs about this plant?

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Record and share your answers to the above questions with your parent or teacher, then reflect on the following questions and discuss them together:

  • What are the reasons why people smoke?
  • What are the downsides and dangers to cigarette smoking?
  • How do we know about the dangers of smoking?

Over three or four centuries, tobacco smoking became an integral part of Western society. According to the Centers for Disease Control, at the peak of tobacco use, over 40% of Americans were smokers!

In the Go! section, collect information on the history of this plant and how it came to be viewed as one of the most dangerous drugs on Earth.

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