Tobacco Labels Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 6 to 9

Author: This lesson has been adapted from Smoke-Free for Life, a smoking prevention curriculum supplement from the Nova Scotia Department of Health, Drug Dependency and Tobacco Control Unit.

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson, students debate the effectiveness of health warning labels on tobacco products. They begin by looking at different warning labels from around the world, and then focus specifically on Canada's new visual warning labels. Students discuss the elements of effective warning labels, and look at the difficulties of reaching young people with health messages.

Learning Outcomes

Big ideas/key concepts: Students will learn the understand that...

  • Media have social and political implications: Media works can influence how we behave; governments sometimes regulate media for the public good
  • Each medium has a unique aesthetic form: Warning labels on tobacco products follow a prescribed form
  • Audiences negotiate meaning: Different people respond differently to the same media text (e.g. warnings)

Key questions:

  • How can media works change how we behave? How do different techniques or approaches work to make people less likely to do something? How do these vary for different groups of people?
  • When is it acceptable for the government to require warning labels on products?

Essential knowledge: Students will learn...

  • Reading media: How labels, text and images are used to influence behaviour
  • Media health: How media influence decisions relating to dangerous behaviours, such as tobacco use

Performance tasks: Students will be able to use media tools to create a warning label that shows their understanding of the medium, and engage with the question of when warning labels are justified

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) is available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit