Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The effects of smoking tobacco – second level

What is this?

This learning activity focuses on the effects of smoking. Children will present what they learn in a written form of their choice. It is intended to support teachers to plan learning experiences for children in their usual setting or while they are learning at home.

As well as taking account of national and local guidance relating to Covid-19, the activity should be used or adapted accordingly to consider the range of learners and their prior knowledge and individual circumstances in relation to this learning experience.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Experiences and Outcomes:  

I understand the effect that a range of substances including tobacco and alcohol can have on the body. HWB 2-38a

I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate. LIT 2-15a

I consider the impact that layout and presentation will have and can combine lettering, graphics and other features to engage my reader. LIT 2-24a

Purpose of the activity

Children will research the effects of smoking tobacco and will present their findings in a written form of their choice.

Learning activity

Introduce the activity by explaining to children that smoking has short and long-term effects on a person’s health. Ask for a few examples of this. For example it can make your breath smell (short term) or it can cause cancer (long term). You might want to show the children this short film about how cigarettes affect the body.

Invite children to research for themselves what can happen to the body as a result of smoking tobacco. Ask them to think about both short and long term effects. They can carry out their research in any way. For example, they might talk to adults or health professionals, and read books or magazine articles. If they are able to research online they may find the following websites helpful:

Ask children to make notes using their own words, based on their research about the short and long term effects of smoking on the body. Possible examples include:


  • bad breath
  • smelly clothes and hair
  • coughing
  • watery eyes
  • feeling sick or dizzy
  • spending money


  • breathing problems
  • increased risk of heart attack
  • circulatory problems
  • lung disease
  • spending a lot of money
  • being addicted
  • risk of cancer

Ask children to use their notes to write about what they have learned about the short and long term effects of smoking on the body. Offer children choice in the layout and presentation of their text, and the intended audience.

Extension activity

Invite children to do this BBC Newsround quiz about the effects of smoking. Alternatively, ask children to devise their own quiz about the effects of smoking on the body.

National Benchmarks

  • Gives examples of what can happen to the body as a result of smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol.
  • Makes and organises notes using own words.
  • Uses notes to create new texts that demonstrate understanding of the topic or issue.
  • Makes appropriate choices about layout and presentation, including in digital texts, to engage the reader. For example, headings, bullet points, fonts, graphics and/or captions.

Possible approach to assessing learning

In assessing children’s understanding of this activity you might:

  • talk to them about their understanding of the effects of smoking tobacco
  • look at the text they have created from their notes.

When planning your approach to assessing learning, please take account of the latest guidance on assessment approaches.

Resource subject Health and wellbeing
Resource type Learning activity
Resource format Webpage