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Tobacco Prevention Activities



As you develop or strengthen your tobacco-free policy, use activities for a comprehensive approach to tobacco-use prevention. These activities described in this section have been proven to impact long-term, tobacco-control goals.

When activities like these are implemented consistently and correctly, they can really make a difference. Know that the work you are doing is helping to achieve real and lasting change in your community’s health.

Use these activities as a guide, and encourage students to personalize them. Some are classroom-based, and some can be done with the broader community. Every activity will help raise awareness and give both youth and adults a way to positively channel their outrage at what the tobacco industry is doing to addict and kill tens of thousands of Americans every year.

Things To Note:

  • Find out if there are local people or groups who would be willing to get involved in your efforts. Your local tobacco-prevention coalition, school health council, American Cancer Society chapter and concerned parents can help spread your message.
  • Be aware that different actions and messages influence different audiences.
  • Do you think your group can realistically pull it off ? If not, modify your plan to ensure success.


There are several things to consider as you start planning for your activity or event. As you sit down with your group, answer these questions, and you’ll be well on your way to being event-planning pros.
What issue/cause are you tackling?
  • Tobacco-free schools
  • Tobacco industry marketing
  • Hollywood & influencer impact on tobacco use
Why are you tackling this issue?
  • Tobacco use is a problem at your school
  • You want teens in your community to know that the tobacco industry is targeting them ($24.2 million is spent each year in South Dakota alone)
  • You want to spread awareness of Hollywood and influencer relationships with the tobacco industry
What do you want to accomplish?
  • Increase awareness among your peers
  • Recruit more members to your group
  • Implement a tobacco-free campus policy for your school or school district
  • Strengthen an existing tobacco-free policy
  • Offer resources to help youth tobacco users quit
What are you going to do? See what other youth are doing across the state and in other parts of the country.

Access the Database

Search through our database of approved tobacco prevention activities.
  • Printable Activity Sheets
  • Door-Decorating Contest
  • Kick the Can
  • Graffiti (or Pledge) Wall
  • Earth Day: Keep It Green/Clean

Take Down Tobacco Day

Explain why you are tobacco-free.


Help the students get to school safely and avoid dangerous situations.


Test your knowledge of tobacco and smoking facts.

Word Search

Put your brain to the test and find all the tobacco-related terms.

Message Decode

Solve the math problems to uncover a secret message!

Cost of Tobacco

What's the true cost of tobacco? Use these two handouts to determine the monetary value of tobacco use and the cost of true-life items.



Get your entire school involved by challenging all the classrooms to decorate their doors with a tobacco/e-cigarette use prevention or cessation theme.

Goals and outcomes

Our goal is for students to become educated on the dangers of tobacco, e-cigarettes and nicotine products while competing to win a challenge.

Estimated cost

$10–$50 or more depending on the prizes awarded and supplies


  • Posters
  • Colored paper
  • Markers
  • Other craft supplies


Get your entire school involved by challenging all the classrooms to decorate their doors with a tobacco/e-cigarette use prevention or cessation theme. At the end of the contest, select students or staff members to judge the doors. Award prizes to different categories, such as the most creative or the strongest message. The prizes can be anything you’d like to incentivize involvement (as long as it is approved by the school), such as a pizza party for the winning classroom. Don’t have funds for a pizza party? Create a fun trophy that classrooms can compete to have in their room. Maybe whoever wins gets first dismissal for lunch!


This activity could be done at any time of year but would be especially good tied to Take Down Tobacco Day (March or April) or the Great American Smokeout (November).

Two weeks before the event

  • Publicize contest. Develop flyers to let the classes know about it (theme, rules, prizes).
  • Make frequent announcements about the contest on the school’s PA system.
  • Recruit judges.

Day of the event

  • Make sure all participants have their doors decorated.
  • Have judges review classroom doors and determine winners.
  • Announce winners over PA system, as well as at any related event (school assembly, etc.).

How to modify

Modifications can be made by using any type of tobacco or nicotine product. It can also be modified by decorating windows, posters, bulletin boards or any other type of display. You can focus on prevention or cessation for the message of your contest. If you want to target post-secondary students, you could have a dorm floor or door decorating contest.

Funding notes

If you are using grant funds for this activity, the prizes or incentives will need to be funded with ancillary dollars.



In this activity, teens give a presentation on what is in smokeless tobacco. Using a blender and various basic ingredients, educate your audience on what smokeless tobacco contains and its dangers.

Goals and Outcomes

  • Decrease smokeless tobacco use

Estimated cost

Less than $20


  • Setup area, such as a table or counter
  • Blender
  • Extension cord (if needed to reach an electrical outlet)
  • 5 containers (to hold each ingredient)
  • Labels for containers
  • Empty “spit” container to present the final product after blending
  • Water (formaldehyde)
  • 7-Up (benzene)
  • Brown sugar (arsenic)
  • Gray/silver cake-decorating balls (lead)
  • Shredded beef jerky (tobacco leaves)


We do not want you to use any of the “real” ingredients that go into smokeless tobacco for your demonstration. ONLY USE THE ALTERNATIVE MOCK INGREDIENTS SUGGESTED. 


  1. Label each container with the name of an ingredient: “Formaldehyde,” “Benzene,” “Arsenic,” “Lead” and “Tobacco.” (Remember, you’ll only use harmless substitutes for these products.)
  2. Put the five harmless ingredients into each of their own containers with labels on them.
  3. Set up your table by placing the ingredients to the left and right of the blender, which should be in the middle of the table. If you have a banner or sign for your group, place it either on the table front (if small sign) or behind you on the side.

Suggested script

Step right up and see what ingredients are in smokeless tobacco. Big Tobacco calls it “smokeless tobacco,” so it sounds like it’s harmless. Guess again!

This is the story Big Tobacco doesn’t want you to hear. Look at these ingredients. 

First, you start with tobacco. We’ve picked a beauty, “Copenhagen.” (Put beef jerky in blender.)

But, Big Tobacco doesn’t stop there. 

You’ve got lead. That’s right; lead is in smokeless tobacco. How many of you read every day about the dangers of lead poisoning? It can lead to brain damage and even death if taken in large quantities or over a long period of time. (Put cake-decorating balls into blender.)

But, Big Tobacco doesn’t stop there.

Smokeless tobacco also contains benzene. Never heard of benzene? Well, it is a highly flammable substance that is used in gasoline and paints…and long-term exposure is linked to leukemia. It can cause vomiting, rapid heart rate and red-blood-cell reduction in your body. (Add 7-Up to blender.)

But, Big Tobacco doesn’t stop there.

Did you know that arsenic is also in smokeless tobacco? Arsenic. The chemical of choice for murderers and mystery writers. It’s used in rat poison and can cause vomiting, abnormal heart rate and death. (Add brown sugar to blender.) 

But, Big Tobacco doesn’t stop there.

You’ve got formaldehyde. This stuff is used to preserve dead animals. It’s an embalming fluid and, you guessed it, it’s in “smokeless” and “chew” products. (Add water to your blender.)

Big Tobacco doesn’t stop there.

They add another 15 to 20 ingredients. Some we know about and some we don’t because they refuse to tell anyone what other ingredients are included in smokeless tobacco.

But, you wouldn’t have a tobacco product if you didn’t have this one last ingredient. What do you think it is? Nicotine. It’s not bad enough that all those dangerous chemicals are in smokeless tobacco. No, Big Tobacco has to hook you on it so they can slowly rot out your gums, throat, cheeks and mouth. (Blend ingredients and put concoction into a “spit” container.) 

And if you don’t think it’s a problem among youth in South Dakota… think about this: two times as many South Dakota high school students use smokeless tobacco as the national average for the same age.


Less than a week needed to plan; total presentation is about 10-15 minutes. This activity can be presented any time of the year. If you are looking to link it to an event, the Great American Spitout happens every February!



Are you sick of Big Tobacco’s lies and manipulation? Get your thoughts out on paper… lots of paper! Create a long paper banner and cover it with anti-tobacco graffiti. This activity give students a fun opportunity to show support for your tobacco-free campus policy. Show your School Board that you want your school campus to be tobacco-free 24/7!

Goals and Outcomes

  • Increase tobacco awareness
  • Increase support for tobacco-free schools and campus

Estimated Cost



Long poster paper roll or banner paper, markers, tape (check to make sure your building doesn’t have restrictions on the type of tape you use).


More than 480,000 people die each year in the United States from this deadly addiction. That’s one death every 66 seconds—all day, every day. Worldwide, nearly 7 million people die each year—that’s one death every 4.5 seconds! Still need convincing? Smoking kills more people than AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides COMBINED.

Studies show that more than 70 percent of smokers want to quit, so there’s a good chance you know someone who is trying to quit or has tried in the past. Have you ever wanted a place to show your support to those trying to quit tobacco or share your knowledge about tobacco products? You can use a graffiti or a pledge wall any day to help others. It can even be used during days like Taking Down Tobacco Day!

Let’s see the different ways you can implement this activity:

  • Do you have a parent, grandparent, friend or other loved one who uses tobacco or nicotine products? You can use the graffiti or pledge wall as an opportunity to help them quit. Organize a pledge wall at your school or community center for people to pledge to help their loved ones quit or to encourage those who use tobacco/nicotine products to quit. Or better yet, use the pledge wall as a way for youth to pledge to be tobacco-free!
  • Educate! Attach the paper to the wall and cover it with anti-tobacco graffiti, facts and encouragement for quitting.
  • Have you lost a loved one to a tobacco-related disease? Use Take Down Tobacco Day as an opportunity to honor those who have lost their lives because of tobacco use and to send a message to the tobacco industry. Organize a memorial, and have participants gather messages in memory of loved ones lost. Tell the tobacco industry to stop targeting kids as “replacement customers.”

Day of Event

  • Set up materials, such as markers or other art supplies and pledge cards, as well as memorial props, such as candles, flowers and photos.
  • On the graffiti wall, write your message. For example, you could write a large phrase such as, “Goodbye, Big Tobacco—from the Youth of (insert your town/group here)!”
  • Provide instructions on what you want people to write on the wall.
    • For the pledge wall, instruct participants to fill out the pledge cards you provide and attach them to the wall. Consider collecting pledges before the actual event. Encourage everyone at your school or community center to sign the pledge wall if they know someone who uses tobacco or nicotine products and are ready to help him/her quit. You can also use the pledge wall to have youth pledge that they will not use tobacco.
    • Ask everyone to write their personal feelings, share facts, draw graphics or submit stories about tobacco on the pledge wall. You can also write words of encouragement for those trying to quit!
    • For a memorial wall, ask people to leave a tribute to a loved one or a message to Big Tobacco.
  • During your event, have people hand out flyers and other information about resources for those looking to quit. You can also create memorial cards that double as tribute cards and a message to Big Tobacco.
  • At the end of the day, present the finished product to your audience and participants.
  • Take lots of pictures, and pass them on to your local paper to let others know about your efforts. You can also post them on your social media!


Don’t throw away your wall. Instead, carefully take the paper off the wall and arrange to present it to your elected officials or those who make decisions. If you can’t present the actual wall, take photos and send them, along with a description of your event, to your legislators. You may also be able to keep the wall up in your school or community center for the whole month of Take Down Tobacco Day, to serve as a constant reminder of the dangers of tobacco use.

Other Ideas

  • Ring a bell or a gong every 66 seconds to signify another tobacco-related death.


2–3 weeks

Any time of year works for this event. Surrounding it around days like Taking Down Tobacco can help to gain interest.



Participants can show their creativity and paint a mural on a canvas to demonstrate tobacco use, cigarette litter and secondhand smoke on the planet.

Goals and outcomes

  • To educate people on how tobacco use, cigarette litter and secondhand smoke not only affect our individual health but also those around us and our planet.
  • Participants will be able to have fun and use their creativity while creating a mural with an important message.
  • Participants will also be able to take smoke-free pledges.


$0 to $50 for art supplies



Since a clean and healthy planet is the focus of Earth Day, this is a great time to focus on clearing the air of secondhand smoke. Environmental organizations and other community groups frequently have Earth Day events, and this activity can be an important part of a community event. This activity can be done in conjunction with a school group or other youth group.


Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22.

Two to three months before the event

  • Contact local environmental organizations to see if they are planning an Earth Day event. Community college or college campuses frequently have such events.

Three weeks before the event

  • Confirm arrangements for your presence at the event. Schedule volunteers to work.
  • Purchase or locate art supplies and canvas. Canvas will need to be free-standing or stretched between two sturdy poles.
  • Order materials for the event (QuitLine materials, smoke-free home and car pledges, etc.)

One week before event

  • Confirm volunteers will be in attendance.
  • Scout location to make sure the canvas setup will work onsite.

How to modify

This event could be modified to be enacted in a school or community organization setting in common areas. You could also use individual canvas or paint on window or paper. Paint could also be replaced with markers, crayons, etc.