Cover Image
close this bookLife Skills for Young Ugandans- Secondary Teachers' Training Manual (UNICEF, 254 p.)
close this folderSection Four: Sample Activities
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentHEALTH
View the documentORAL HEALTH
View the documentSMOKING
View the documentDRUG ABUSE



Smoking is being promoted with more vigour today as new brands of cigarettes hit the market. Most adolescents may, initially, have no intention of smoking but in their search for identity, to belong, to experiment or simply to pass time and enjoy themselves, they become involved in smoking too. They don’t want to lose out on the currently popular activities advanced by mass media especially since this is a stage when values fluctuate between those of their parents and those of their peers.

The masculine cowboy figure, the images of success and dominance all appeal to adolescents, especially male adolescents. They therefore need to be aware of the influences surrounding them, so that they can confront them, as well as being aware of the effects of smoking so that they can make informed decisions.




By the end of the lesson, students should be able to:

1. Name four ways in which tobacco may be used.
2. Explain the influences which may lead to people smoking and how it can affect them.

Life Skills to be developed

Critical thinking, self-esteem, empathy

Time: 40 minutes.


Large sheets of paper or chalkboard, markers, or pens and pencils, masking tape or pins, smoking advertisements from the newspapers, case study, “Ibara.”


1. Divide class into groups of five to eight people.
2. Distribute the case study or write on chalkboard or large sheet of paper.

Ibara lived in Kabale. His parents grew and smoked tobacco. From his infancy, Ibara saw his mother smoke and chew tobacco. His father too used to put dried tobacco leaves in a big pipe and send him to light it with burning charcoal, it. Ibara would then smoke a little before handing it to the old man.

Ibara started smoking cigarettes when he was fourteen and soon became a chain smoker. He also chewed, sniffed and at times put dried leaves of tobacco in a pipe and smoked it like his father.

3. Each group discusses the case study and records its findings. The discussion can be centred on the following questions.

(i) How many different ways was tobacco used in Ibara’s home?
(ii) In your opinion, why did Ibara choose smoking?
(iii) If you were Ibara, would you have done any differently? Why?
(iv) What were the influences on Ibara’s decision to smoke tobacco?
(v) Who is a chain smoker?

4. Each group presents its findings for class discussion.

5. Show one smoking advertisement to the class (an example is shown on the next page). Discuss how it tries to attract people to smoke.

6. Distribute other advertisements for group discussion.

(i) What is the message of the advertisement?
(ii) How is it trying to make smoking attractive?
(iii) According to the advertisement what is the advantage of smoking?
(iv) How realistic is the advertisement

7. Each group writes its points on a sheet of paper and puts them on the wall below the advertisement.

8. Students move round looking at the adverts and the analysis of the other groups. They can add further points if they wish.

9. Wrap up activity by soliciting similar or other influences which lead people to smoke (including peer pressure which will be looked at in a later lesson).

Learning points

· Some of the answers as to what influenced Ibara could include the fact that he grew up in a tobacco growing area and family, the example of his parents, curiosity and adventure, practice (from lighting his father’s pipe), search for approval and compliance with family norms.

· Advertisements are most effective when people do not realise how they work. Students should come to see how the advertisements are directly appealing to certain emotions within them, which are not connected at all to the actual fact of smoking (for example, the smoker always has a beautiful girlfriend) to convince them to smoke.

Extension activity

1. Ask students to collect other examples of cigarette adverts from billboards, newspapers, radio and television and write a similar analysis of them to put up in the classroom.





Adolescents are confronted with a variety of complex issues concerning their growing independence and search for identity. Thus, although, this is the age when abstract thinking which links present action to future consequences is just beginning to develop, many teenagers tend to let their lives take their course without thinking about it too much. Making decisions is a complicated process.

At the same time, the ability to make sound decisions is crucial in life. That is why decision making as a skill must be learned and practised - before it is too late.




By the end of the lesson, students should be able to:

1. Explain factors that influence decision making.
2. Illustrate different styles of decision making.
3. Use the appropriate style in relation to smoking.

Life Skills to be developed

Critical thinking, self-esteem and decision-making

Time: 40 minutes.


5 parcels, each one containing a number of items wrapped in paper:

Parcel 1:

Items like sweets, bananas, money wrapped in old newspaper.

Parcel 2:

Stones, bottle tops, etc beautifully wrapped in gift paper.

Parcel 3:

Empty biscuit packet stuffed with paper, perfume bottle filled with water, sticks covered with biro tops and some bundles of paper made to appear like money wrapped up nicely.

Parcel 4:

Stones, bottle tops etc wrapped in old newspaper.

Parcel 5:

Books and a mathematical set, wrapped in nice but not colourful paper.

Each parcel should be labelled with its number.


1. Place parcels in a row on a table behind the class

2. Divide the class into four teams and explain that the purpose of the game is for each team to win the best deal for itself.

(i) Each team has 200 points which they can use to bargain.

(ii) The most valuable parcel is worth 250 points. The second most valuable is worth 150, the third 100, the fourth 50 and the fifth nothing. Therefore the best deal is connected with the winning the most valuable parcel.

3. Each team chooses one volunteer to go to the back of the classroom and choose the parcel they think has the best contents.

4. Volunteers draw lots as to who is the first to choose.

5. Volunteers choose in turn. They are not allowed to touch the parcels. Members of the team can give advice. After each one has chosen, teams are allowed to negotiate for an exchange of parcels by offering extra points to the other team in order to get the parcel they want.

6. Allow the representatives of each team to pick up their parcels and feel them. They can tell the rest of their team what they feel. Each representative is also allowed to hold the fifth parcel which has not been touched. On the basis of what they feel, they can again try to renegotiate an exchange of parcels through the giving and taking of points. Alternatively, they can bargain for the 5th parcel by giving 100 points to the lecturer.

7. After the negotiations have been completed, the lecturer allows each team to open their parcels. Students decide together which is most valuable, with the lecturer having the casting vote if necessary. Teams add up the points remaining to them together with the points for their parcel.

8. Ask the teams to consider the following questions.

(i) How easy was it to choose a parcel the first time? Why?

(ii) On what did they base any negotiations for a change of parcels the first time?

(iii) When they felt the parcels, how much did their knowledge of what was inside change? To what extent did it provoke them into bargaining for a different one?

(iv) How did they decide how much to bargain? Did they make any calculations as to how many points it was worth giving away in the bargaining?

(v) How did they feel when they opened their parcels? Any regrets? Self-congratulation?

9. After teams have considered these questions and presented them briefly to plenary, ask them what this game taught them about the process of decision making.

10. Conclude the activity by reiterating that this was a game and therefore no serious consequences of our choices were suffered. However, the same processes are applied to all our decisions for which we have to take the consequences. Ask students to give examples in their lives where decisions have to be made with similar kinds of circumstances.

Learning points

· In the discussion of this, the following facts should come out:

(i) Collecting information or facts is important in decision making.

(ii) Choosing a parcel without sufficient information is a clear demonstration of how we often make decisions with little or no information. Even though we only have outside impressions we make decisions and often get quite emotional about them and develop all sorts of reasons to justify our decisions.

(iii) After feeling the parcels, they were able to make more informed decisions. However, once again the information was incomplete and the possibility of making the wrong decision was still quite high. The way different team members made decisions about whether to bargain or not etc. is a sign of how much we consider before making decisions in our lives.

(iv) After opening the parcels, it was very clear which decisions should have been made. This also happens often in life. We are wise ‘after the event’ but it is sometimes too late, which is why we have to be very careful about what decisions we make beforehand.

· Decision making is a process.

· Just as forming a habit is a process, so is rejecting a habit and adopting another.

· There is no right or wrong decision but there are principles and the individual must take responsibility for her/his own actions.


· The lecturer should not be tempted to provide a ‘dos and don’ts’ approach to behaviour change.

· The lecturer should try as much as possible to develop the students’ ability to reflect on their own behaviour and decide whether they need to change.




By the end of the activity, students should be able to:

1. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of smoking.
2. Make informed and health promoting decisions in their own lives, especially in relation to smoking.

Life Skills to be developed

Critical thinking, decision making, empathy.

Time: 40 minutes.


1. Students remain in the same teams as the previous lesson.

2. Explain that they are going to apply the process of decision making to the issue of smoking - whether to smoke (or continue smoking) or not.

3. Ask half the groups to draw up reasons for smoking and the other half to draw up reasons for not smoking. Explain that they do not have to agree with the reasons they draw up: the aim is to understand the reasons for smoking or not smoking.

4. Ask the 2 sides to present their arguments one by one. For each argument, the other side is allowed to present a counter argument. Each side takes turns to present an argument. The teacher writes their arguments in a table on the chalkboard/flip chart:

Negative aspects

Positive aspects











5. Explain that at the end they must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each decision. If the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of a chosen option, then go ahead and take the decision. Groups discuss what decision they would take.

6. Write the following factors involved in deciding to start or stop smoking.

(i) Having the information required to make a good decision.
(ii) Recognising the situation that requires decision making.
(iii) Recognising alternatives.
(iv) Recognising consequences.
(v) Respecting oneself and one’s values in taking a personal stand.
(vi) Being consistent with personal values and convictions.
(vii) Recognising setbacks including social pressures.
(viii) Consciously making a decision is better than making no decision at all.

Ask students to discus how these issues are related to the decisions. Which are the most important (eg personal values, the values of one’s friends, etc)

7. Conclude the activity by explaining that making decisions is not easy and we can often resist what we logically know to be the right decision because of other personal and emotional factors. This is not something to be ashamed or proud about but to be confronted before the negative consequences take effect.

Learning points

· Decision making in issues reflecting our health depends both on our knowledge and our self-esteem.

· Some of the reasons for smoking may include:

(i) relaxation.
(ii) to get rid of fatigue, boredom and idleness.
(iii) to identify with my friends.
(iv) to get rid of my worries.
(v) to overcome timidity.
(vi) to get rid of anxiety.
(vii) it makes my brain work better
(viii) to become confident.
(ix) to look mature.
(x) to look sophisticated
(xi) just like my dad.
(xii) because smoking is for successful people.

· Reasons for not smoking may include:

(i) can cause cancer.
(ii) contributes to other diseases.
(iii) anti-social habit. Leaves a smell.
(iv) causes bad breath etc.
(v) affects the health of other people who are with me.



· Bring out the conflict that often occurs between what we know we should do and what we want to do.




While adolescents may not have the intention of becoming permanent smokers, more often than not those who begin fail to stop. At the outset, they may be mainly concerned with their image among their peers than any real enjoyment of smoking. This can have serious consequences because even after the issue of image has disappeared they may still be unable to give up smoking because of its addictive nature.


By the end of the session, students should be able to:

1. Identify and explain the different influences which lead adolescents to become habitual smokers.

2. Analyse the process of habit formation

3. Identify and put into practice those life skills which will enable them not to form such habits or break them when necessary.

Life Skills to be developed

Critical thinking, assertiveness


Cards or sheets of paper, copies of the case study, markers or pens and pencils


1. Divide the class into groups. Ask each group to prepare a mime on why people decide to smoke. The mimes should be brief and amusing and not more than 1 minute each.

2. Explain that for a person to become a habitual smoker, it takes time because it is a process.

3. Write the characteristics for the process on the chalkboard

· Stage 1


· Stage 2


· Stage 3


· Stage 4


· Stage 5

Continuing smoker

4. Ask each group to discuss among themselves what stages were shown in their mimes.

5. Distribute case studies. Do not disclose the stages that correspond with the case studies. Give the students a chance to discover for themselves.

6. Each group discusses its case study, responding to the questions that follow them.

7. Each group record its findings ready for presentation. If there is time, groups can start to present to the plenary. Otherwise the presentations will be done in the next lesson.

8. After all groups have presented, wrap up the exercise with the following processing points.

(i) What did you learn from the discussions?
(ii) What surprised you?
(iii) What did you hear from your peers that was different from what you expected?
(iv) What do you think about smoking? Has your attitude changed as a result of the previous activities? Why/why not?

Learning points

· ‘Mr Okello’s hobby’ corresponds with CONTINUING SMOKER.

· ‘Letter to Dr Apollo’ corresponds with PERSUASION.

· ‘Rita okays smoking’ corresponds with APPROVAL.

· ‘Emma and Joy at the crossroads’ corresponds with PRACTICE.

· ‘Richard makes a decision’ corresponds with INTENTION.

· Some individuals do not necessarily go through each stage.

· Sometimes we ‘unconsciously’ form habits without giving them much thought. But this should not be used as an excuse.

· Learners should be encouraged to know what is best for them and stand up for it.


The class may have smokers. The lecturer may have to begin the lesson with formation of ground rules (see Section 2 of the manual for examples) in order to protect the dignity of such persons.


Mr Okello’s hobby

Okello was a chain smoker for twenty years. He smoked at least 20 cigarettes a day and believed he could not do without a puff. No matter what his friends said, he would not be convinced. His doctor told him that he had problems with his lungs and recommended that he immediately stop smoking but Okello did not take heed even when he showed signs of acute ulcers. He could not give up smoking.

Questions for discussion

(i) At what stage of habit formation was Okello? Explain
(ii) What options did Okello have? Why did Okello choose the option he did?
(iii) Is it easy to stop smoking? Why?
(iv) If you were Okello, what would you say to young people after visiting the doctor?
(v) How can you support someone who is:

· a smoker already
· a non-smoker who is tempted to experiment with cigarettes

Rita okays smoking

Rita while smoking a cigarette tells her class ‘smoking is the fashion. It makes you cool. I’m telling you, when the smoke enters your blood your brain works better. You feel so good and you show the world that you’re great.’

Questions for discussion

(i) At what stage of habit formation is Rita? Explain
(ii) What are the main reasons for Rita’s smoking? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
(iii) What are your feelings about Rita?
(iv) What life skills does Rita have/need?
(v) Do you think it will be easy for Rita to give up smoking? Why/why not?
(vi) How could you help Rita if you were one of her classmates?


Letter to Dr Apollo

I am in Senior Two. I have a rich friend who is willing to give me free cigarettes and booze if I am willing to accept them. All my friends smoke. I feel I should not start smoking but I fear I will lose my friends. Dear Dr Apollo, please help me.

Rebecca Kale

Questions for discussion

(i) At what stage of habit formation is Rebecca? Explain
(ii) What dilemma do you think Rebecca is faced with?
(iii) What consequences do you foresee?
(iv) How would you help Rebecca?
(v) What action should be taken first?
(vi) What do you admire in Rebecca?
(vii) What life skills does she need?

Emma and Joy at the crossroads

Emma and Joy are in Senior Three. They have a friend called Robinah who recently started smoking. Every break time she has a few puffs in the school toilets and she encourages her friends to smoke. They tried once but didn’t like the taste much even if it gave them a thrill to be trying something new. Robinah is always trying to convince them to try again.

Questions for discussion

(i) At what stage of habit formation are Emma and Joy?
(ii) On what criteria are they likely to base their decision?
(iii) What life skills do they have/need?
(iv) If you were their classmates, what would you advise them?

Richard ‘gathers his guts’

Richard left early for school. He wanted to pass by the shops and buy his first cigarettes. He had had enough of those classmates of his who laughed at him for being afraid to smoke. He had tried one or two of theirs and although he didn’t really like them, he was determined to buy some cigarettes and then casually offer them round to the group during breaktime. They would then all smoke together behind the latrines before going back to class.

Questions for discussion

(i) At what stage of habit formation is Richard? Explain.
(ii) Why do you think he has reached this stage?
(iii) How do you feel about him?
(iv) What life skills does Richard have/need?
(v) What would you say to Richard if you were one of his classmates?

Extension Activity

1. Give the following handout to the students.


Dialogue “Ways to say No to smoking”


Saying “No thanks”


“Would you like to smoke?”


“No thanks”


Repeated refusal or keep saying “no”


“Just smoke and feel good”




“Come on Sheila”




“Just try it”


“No please”




“Just a puff”


“No” and walks away


Cold Shoulder


“Hey are you saved?”


Ignores with a cold shoulder


Change the subject


“This cigarette has a nice taste”


“Come on Dora. The examination is knocking at the door. Let’s go to revise chemistry.

2. Students discuss the different methods.

(i) Which method do you think is the most effective and why?

(ii) How would Dora feel in each of these? If Dora is your friend, which is the best way of resisting her, while at the same time keeping her friendship? Is it possible to refuse to smoke and keep your smoking friends?

(iii) What life skills is Sheila showing here?

(iv) What other ways can you think of to say no?

(v) What do you feel about friends who try to convince you like this?




While adolescents smoke, they rarely think about the negative effects their actions have upon those around them. Teenagers usually feel on top of the world and tend to be ‘egocentric’. Even those who don’t smoke do not realise that inhaling smoke from other people’s cigarettes is harmful to their lives. Both parties do not realise that they have a part to play in helping one other without necessarily appearing to condemn one another.




By the end of the lesson, students should be able to:

1. Explain and internalise the need for thinking through the effects of one’s behaviour on others.

2. Defend their rights assertively without being offensive.

3. Utilise different strategies that facilitate peaceful co-existence between smokers and non-smokers.

Life Skills to be developed

Critical thinking, interpersonal relationships, decision making, peer resistance.

Time: 40 minutes.


Checklists for each student, or large sheet of paper with checklist written on it, copies of case study, chalk or masking tape, markers or pens and pencils.


1. Divide class into groups of five to eight people

2. Distribute checklist to each member of the group. If this is not possible, write on chalkboard or large sheet of paper.





Whatever 1 do, 1 think about myself first.


I’m not bothered about someone else’s personal activities.


Smoking is solely the responsibility of the smoker.


Smoke from cigarettes is just as bad as that from cars and lorries or even firewood.


Even if I don’t smoke, I should leave smokers alone. We all have our rights.


One man’s meat is another man’s poison. The same applies to smoking.


My health can’t be affected even if I sit next to a person smoking.

3. Each student fills in the checklist first without consulting anyone else.

4. In their groups, members compare their responses and tally in the frequency column.

5. Each group answers the questions below:

(i) What did you like about the activity?
(ii) Is it easy to think about others when an action is pleasant to you? Why?
(iii) Why is it difficult to base your actions on other people’s feelings?

6. Distribute the case study ‘Amina and Joseph’ to all students or write on chalkboard/large sheet of paper.


Amina is Joseph’s girlfriend. She is a very attractive and respectful lady. She loves Joseph and would never wish to hurt him. Joseph smokes at least 10 cigarettes a day. He smokes even when they’re having meals together, or watching TV or when they are out for walks. Even in his bedroom, Joseph smokes a cigarette before going to sleep. Amina does not smoke and the smoke from Joseph’s cigarette sometimes makes her cough. She doesn’t like the smell of cigarettes on his clothes or in his mouth. But she doesn’t want to offend him by registering her discomfort.

7. Groups answer the following questions.

(i) Who of the characters in the story is the active smoker and who is the passive smoker?

(ii) What is lacking in Amina’s and Joseph’s friendship?

(iii) If you were Amina what would you do differently?

(iv) If you were Joseph and Amina told you she didn’t like you smoking, what would you do/say?

(v) What effects does Joseph’s smoking have on Amina’s health?

(vi) Who suffers most, Joseph or Amina? Why?

(vii) What life skills do Joseph and Amina have/need?

8. Groups report their answers one at a time and class discusses each question.

9. To wrap up, discuss the following questions:

(i) Who is a passive smoker?

(ii) How is a passive smoker affected by an environment of smokers?

(iii) If you were a passive smoker, what steps would you take to protect your health?

(iv) Is smoking outside buildings or within special areas for example in aeroplanes enough protection for the passive smoker? Explain

(v) If you were/are a smoker, where and when would/do you smoke?

Learning points

· Passive smoking refers to those people who are non-smokers but who indirectly and involuntarily inhale smoke from other people’s cigarettes or pipes.

· Passive smokers can suffer worse consequences than active smokers because smoke from half-burnt tobacco is more harmful than that from fully burnt tobacco.

· Active smokers inhale smoke after the tobacco is fully burnt while passive smokers take in smoke from the half-burnt tobacco.

· Passive smokers are exposed to respiratory diseases, cancers, ulcers, bronchitis, emphysema, heart problems and skin diseases.


· The lecturer should not seek to bias participation of the class. All should be given a chance, smokers and non-smokers.

· Emphasis should be laid on life skills needed by individuals to co-exist with active or passive smokers; and to make the appropriate decisions for themselves.

Extension activity

1. Write exercise on chalkboard/paper.

You have been chosen as chairperson of the health committee in your area. What measures would you put in place to protect people from passive smoking.

2. Groups discuss exercise and prepare their list of measures for presentation in the next lesson.