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Session 2: Resisting Peer Pressure


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In Session 2, students review the negative consequences of using E-cigarettes and are then asked to brainstorm the reasons why, given all the undesirable consequences, people their age start using E-cigarettes? If they understand these reasons, they are more likely to consider ways to deal with them.

Adolescents typically use E-cigarettes because they are very curious about them and they believe they are socially desirable. In addition, they think using E-cigarettes will help them be accepted, have fun, and/or appear older. Though each of these supposed results may be important to your students, CATCH My Breath emphasizes that all of these results can be attained in healthier ways than by using E-cigarettes (or using any tobacco product). Students are asked to brainstorm positive alternatives to using E-cigarettes and to point out the differences between their desired lifestyle and E-cigarette use.

The next activity is designed to dispel the idea that young people use E-cigarettes because “everybody does it and everybody likes it.” E-cigarette use is not normative behavior in the United States. Non-users are the majority.

Finally, students are given the assignment of interviewing an adult, preferably a parent or guardian, about using E-cigarettes. This activity allows students to engage their parent or guardian in a discussion about E-cigarettes and about getting “hooked” on nicotine. From that discussion, students can learn that adults generally disapprove of using E-cigarettes, even if they happen to use them. Students may also discover that adult tobacco users frequently began using tobacco as teenagers, that they are addicted, and that it is very difficult for them to quit. The characteristics of addiction and of difficulty quitting equally apply to E-cigarettes.


Session 2 Lesson Plan

Resisting Peer Pressure

Suggested length:  30 minutes

Lesson Objectives

Students will:
  • Review the harmful consequences of E-cigarette use.
  • Identify reasons why kids their age begin using E-cigarettes.
  • Identify positive alternatives to using E-cigarettes.
  • Identify the percentage of E-cigarette users in high school and middle school and describe nonsmokers as the majority.

Instructional Activities

  1. Introduction

     2 minutes

    A. Ask students to guess what percentage of 11th grade students actually smoke E-cigarettes. Tell students to keep their answers to themselves for right now and that we will come back to this question later in the session.

    This activity is designed to dispel the idea that young people use E-cigarettes because “everybody does it.” E-cigarette use is not normative behavior in the United States. Non-users are the majority. Only a small percentage of students in middle school and high school regularly use E-cigarettes, and most teenagers disapprove of E-cigarette use. Nevertheless, students often overestimate the number of people they think use E-cigarettes, just as they do with traditional cigarettes. By presenting factual information about the teen prevalence of E-cigarette use students will understand that not “everyone does it.” Therefore, in this activity students will estimate the number of E-cigarette users in their age group and then compare their estimate to the actual number determined by research.

    B. Briefly review the negative consequences and E-cigarette facts from session 1:

    • E-cigs are socially unacceptable
    • Make you look silly
    • Costs lots of money, about $100 to get started
    • Nicotine is addictive
    • Vapor contains formaldehyde and unknown chemicals
    • Against school rules; get suspended from sports; it’s against the law!
    • Lose the trust of parent(s)
    • Harms babies
    • They can explode!
  2. Direct Instruction

     5 minutes

    A. Present that E-cigarettes are not as helpful as people think to help them quit smoking cigarettes.

    B. Ask: What do you think of when you hear the word addiction? How do you feel about the possibility of you becoming addicted to something?

    C. Give students 1 minute to individually rank on paper the addictive potential of the following drugs, with 1 being the most addictive: nicotine, cocaine, alcohol, heroin, caffeine, marijuana, morphine, LSD.

    D. Present the graph on addictive potential explaining each axis and highlighting nicotine’s rank. As time permits, briefly discuss whether any of these results are surprising to students. Nicotine is almost as addictive as heroin.

    Addictive Potential Graph 

  3. Work Time

     22 minutes

    A. Have students assemble in their groups.

    B. Activity 1: Reasons Why Young People Experiment with E-cigarettes (7 min.)

    • Ask peer group facilitators to lead a quick small-group brainstorm, using Peer Group Facilitator Sheet 3: Reasons Why Young People Experiment with E-cigarettes in their Peer Group Facilitator Guide.
    • Ask each peer group facilitator to report to the class 2–3 reasons their group listed. Continue this until all responses have been recorded on the document projector or board.
    • Possible answers for Reasons Why Young People Experiment with E-cigarettes include:

    Friends use it

    Brother uses it

    Parent use it

    To rebel

    Sweet smelling flavors

    Looks fun

    Looks attractive & cool

    Calms nerves


    Something to do

    Makes you look older


    C. Activity 2: Positive Alternatives to Smoking E-cigarettes (8 min.)

    • Read aloud the top 5 reasons people start smoking E-cigarettes.

      1. To be accepted or make new friends

      2. Curious about how it works

      3. To taste new flavors

      4. Makes you look older

      5. Helps you forget problems or gives you energy when you are down.

    • Ask peer group facilitators to lead a quick small-group brainstorm, using Peer Group Facilitator Sheet 4: Positive Alternatives to Using E-Cigarettes in their Peer Group Facilitator Guide.
    • Share alternatives as a class. Possible answers include:

      Join a sports team or club

      Invite friends to a movie

      Tell a joke

      Workout/exercise (it gives you more energy)

      Ask lots of questions & don’t judge

      Try a new hobby

      Volunteer to take on more responsibility

      Go to a candy shop and try sugar free gum

      Go to bed earlier

    • Congratulate students on identifying so many positive alternatives to smoking E-cigarettes. Urge them to remember these alternatives when confronted with the decision of whether to try an E-cigarette.

    D. Activity 3: How Many Kids Smoke E-cigarettes? (7 min.)

    • Ask peer group facilitators to turn to Peer Group Facilitator Sheet 5: Our Best Guess: How Many 11th Graders Smoke E-cigarettes? in their Peer Group Facilitator Guide.
    • Instruct peer group facilitators to average their group’s guesses according to the directions on their sheet.
    • Call on one peer group facilitator at a time to give the group’s averaged guess. Record each group’s guesses on the board or document projector.
    • Reveal actual numbers: 16% of high-schoolers and 5.3% of middle-schoolers have smoked an E-cigarette in the last 30 days.
    • Discuss the groups’ guesses compared to the actual numbers. Ask: Why do you think students’ estimates are higher than the actual number? Possible answers include:

      Advertising through magazines

      YouTube & Social Media makes E-cigarettes seem everywhere

      Some students brag about smoking E-cigarettes to get attention

      Teens see a few people their age using E-cigarettes & think everyone their age uses them

  4. Closing

     1 minute

    A. Distribute Handout 5: Adult Interview to students. Explain the assignment.

    • Distribute Handout 5: Adult Interview to each student, and then either read aloud or call on a peer leader to read aloud the directions and the questions.
    • Emphasize that they should try to interview one of their parents or guardians, but if they cannot arrange that, they should find another adult to interview.
    • State that they will be discussing their interviews during the next class, and give them the date of Session 3.

    B. Briefly review key points of this session:

    • Most middle and high school students do NOT smoke E-cigarettes
    • There are many positive alternatives to using E-cigarettes.

    C. Announce the next session’s topic: Don’t Let Them Lie & Win – Advertising Techniques




If there is more than a week between Sessions 2 and 3, plan to give students reminders in the interim about completing the Adult Interview assignment.

Teacher 211

See the CATCH My Breath Pinterest board:

Some students want to turn to E-cigarettes because they are beginning to feel symptoms of depression or are experiencing other behavioral health problems. If you sense that a student is in trouble, tell him or her that there are several possible reasons for feeling this way and refer them to the school nurse, counselor, or principal.

Youth and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the detrimental consequences of nicotine exposure to the brain. These consequences include addiction, priming for use of other addictive substances, reduced impulse control, deficits in attention and cognition, and mood disorders.

Nicotine has been observed to cross the placenta within the first 7 weeks. Because of the known effects of nicotine on fetal and postnatal development, nicotine delivered by E-cigarettes during pregnancy could result in multiple adverse consequences, including sudden infant death syndrome, altered corpus callosum, auditory processing deficits, effects on appetitive behaviors, obesity, and deficits in attention and cognition.

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