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Teachers: PSHE: Alcohol Drugs Tobacco

Last Updated: Tuesday September 04 2007 15:11 GMT



Smoking has been banned in all enclosed public spaces in England since July 2007, it was the last part of the UK to introduce such a ban.

Students look at the reasons why people smoke and give up. They create a barometer of different opinions about a smoking ban.

Learning aims
  • Critically evaluate young peoples' comments about a smoking ban.
  • Learn some of the reasons why people smoke and why they give up.
  • Develop their own opinion about smoking in public places.

Smoking ban to begin summer 2007

News-based comprehension

Read out this story to the class.

The story and the following questions are available as a printable worksheet.

Ask students:

1. When was smoking be banned in England?
Summer 2007.

2. Where is smoking banned?
In all enclosed spaces in England such as restaurants, cafes and shopping centres.

3. Which other parts of the UK, have a smoking ban?
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

4. What do anti-smoking campaigners and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt think about the ban?
They say lots of lives will be saved by the ban.

5. Outline TWO other opinions on the ban.
Some people think the government shouldn't be telling people where they can smoke.
Others are worried the ban could make things worse for some children, as parents who smoke will stay at home and light up.

6. What punishment will people receive, if they smoke in places they shouldn't?
They could face fines of as much as 2,500 - more than 10 times the current 200 fine.

7. Why was the change in the law bought in? Who will benefit?
It was mainly to protect people who work in bars and clubs from the effects of passive smoking.

8. What else are the government thinking about doing under the Health Bill?
Raising the legal age at which you can buy cigarettes from 16 to 18.

Now your view

9. Do you think the legal age of smoking should be raised from 16 to 18? Why?

10. Do you think the cost of cigarettes should be raised? Why?

11. Smoking is set to banned in all enclosed spaces in England but do you think it should be banned in all PUBLIC places such as streets and parks? Why?



As a class, students brainstorm the reasons why people smoke.

Below are some possible reasons:

  • Their friends do it
  • It helps them relax
  • They enjoy it
  • Helps them look older
  • Makes them feel more confident
  • It helps them to cope
  • Keeps them 'in' with a certain crowd
  • They have a right to smoke, it's a free world
In pairs, students brainstorm the reasons why people give up.

Below are some possible reasons:

  • They want the money for other things
  • Girlfriend/boyfriend complains about the smell
  • It holds them back in sport
  • They grow out of it
  • They don't want their kids to do it
  • They don't want a smoking-related illness like cancer
Main activity

Smoking ban barometer

Students read these comments submitted to the Newsround website.

They are available as a printable worksheet.

cigarette stubbed out in an ashtray

In pairs, students clear their desks and turn them into a smoking ban opinion barometer with:

  • Indoor public places ban at the left hand edge
  • Indoor and outdoor public place ban in the middle
  • Make smoking illegal at the right hand edge
They cut the worksheet into strips and place each strip on the table, between the two edges, according to the position of the argument.

Ask students? Are their any obvious gaps in the barometer?

In pairs, each student writes a fitting comment on one of the worksheet's blank strips of paper and place it in a gap.

They might have to play devil's advocate and invent arguments which are not their own, but which match the position of the comment.

They could use the arguments in the Teachers' background below for inspiration.

Students write their own opinion on a blank strip of paper, with their name, age and town (like on the comments worksheet) and place it on the desktop ban barometer.

Ask a handful of students to:

  • Read out their comment
  • Say where on the ban barometer they placed
  • Explain their views on smoking
Extension activity

Print our quiz on smoking and challenge students to find the answers.

Answers: 1c, 2a, 3c, 4b, 5b, 6f.


Ask students: Cigarette advertising is already banned on television, and cigarette adverts must carry a health warning. But should cigarette adverts be banned completely? Why/why not?

Teachers' background

Smoking was banned in all enclosed spaces in England in summer 2007 including restaurants, cafes and shopping centres.

People who smoke in places they shouldn't could face fines of as much as 2,500 - more than 10 times the current 200 fine.

Bans on smoking in public spaces have been introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Arguments for a ban

Supporters of a ban say that evidence about the risks of passive smoking is too compelling to ignore. Some of the arguments they put forward are listed below.

  • Passive smoking is dangerous: Second-hand smoking in the workplace causes about 700 deaths each year, according to research from Imperial College.

  • A majority of people favour a smoking ban: A smoking ban in workplaces including pubs and bars is supported by a majority of people, according to a poll for the BBC in August 2004.

  • A ban would encourage more smokers to quit: A poll by Mintel in May 2004 found that 15 percent of smokers said they would quit smoking if a ban was introduced.

  • The "voluntary approach" has failed: The Wanless report on public health said the voluntary approach to smoking in the workplace had only limited success - pubs and bars still allow smoking.

  • People have a right to protect themselves from smoke inhalation: The British Medical Association argues that 70% of the population are currently denied the freedom to go about their lives in a smoke-free environment.
Arguments against a ban

Opponents of a smoking ban say that freedom of choice would be affected. Some of the arguments they put forward are listed below:

  • People want restrictions not a ban: A Populous poll in May 2004 indicated that people would like to see restrictions on smoking rather than an outright ban.

  • People should have freedom of choice: The smokers' lobby group, Forest, points to a BBC poll which showed that 64% or people thought that smoking should be a personal matter.

  • Smoking bans damage business: A smoking ban could lead to a significant fall in takings from bars, restaurants and casinos. Licensed Victuallers Wales says the ban could lead to the closure of more than a quarter of pubs in Wales.

  • The link between passive smoking and ill health is unproven: Forest maintains there is no clear link between exposure to passive smoke and illness in non-smokers. It has a briefing on the issue.

  • Self regulation is the solution: Left to market forces, pubs, bars and restaurants will introduce smoke-free areas and better ventilation tailored to customers' needs, says Forest in a statement on the issue.
The law

It is against the law to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 16.

Shopkeepers can be fined up to 2,500 for selling tobacco children under this age.

Police officers and uniformed park keepers can take smoking materials from anyone under 16 smoking in a public place.

There has been some discussion about raising the age of tobacco ales to 18 but at the moment there are no firm proposals to change the law.


A 2004 BBC survey questioned more than one thousand people on a number of smoking issues, including workplace bans and tax increases.

Over two-thirds (67per cent) would support a smoking ban in all workplaces, including pubs and clubs.

Thirty-eight per cent of smokers surveyed supported the idea of a workplace ban, which, again, included pubs, bars and restaurants.

The widest support across the survey was for the increase and enforcement of penalties for the selling of tobacco to children, with 93 per cent backing the proposal. The idea was supported by over 90 per cent across all groups and age-groups.

68 per cent felt that parents who consistently allowed their underage children to smoke should ultimately face prosecution. Nearly a third (31 per cent) were against this idea.

A report by the Schools Health Education Unit in 2003 found that the number of young children who experiment with cigarettes has risen sharply.

Two-fifths of 12 to 13-year-olds admitted they had tried cigarettes in 2001 - up from 30 per cent in 1990.

Among 14 to 15-year-olds the figure was 60 per cent - compared with 57 per cent in 1990.

Of the 299,543 young people questioned, more than half lived in a home where at least one person smoked.

Some of the children surveyed got their cigarettes from parents or older siblings, while others shared the cost of a packet.

Three-quarters of young smokers want to kick the habit.

This proportion has remained static over the years despite government campaigns to discourage smoking.

Smoking during teenage years increases the risk of lung cancer, even if the smoker stops.

Twenty-two per cent of 14 to 15-year-old girls and around six per cent of 12 to 13-year-old girls report smoking regularly.

However, figures from Scotland show a significant fall in the number of 15-year-old boys and girls who smoke.

Curriculum relevance

Citizenship. Key Stage 3. National Curriculum Programme of Study.

1a. The legal and human rights and responsibilities underpinning society and how both relate to young people.
1b. The diversity of national identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding.
2a. Think about topical political, spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues, problems and events by analysing information and its sources.
2b. Justify orally and in writing a personal opinion about such issues, problems or events.
3a. Use imagination to consider other people's experiences and be able to think about, express and explain views that are not students' own.

For hundreds more news-based lessons, click on Teachers on the left hand side.

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