Are You The Target?
Youths will examine media messaging used by the alcohol and tobacco industries.
The educator observes the youths' demonstrated knowledge and application of critical thinking related to messaging by the alcohol and tobacco industries.
Markers, Poster paper
Create and place one of four signs in each corner of the room. These signs read, “Absolutely,” “No way,” “Yes, but,” and “No, but.” Youths are asked to move to the corner of the room that best indicates their response to the following statements:
- Alcohol and tobacco are the most dangerous drugs.
- E-cigarettes may be safer than smoking tobacco products.
- Smoking should be allowed on school property.
- Drug use is a normal part of growing up.
- You can use drugs without becoming addicted.
- Drinking energy drinks is a great source of quick clean fuel.
Emphasize to youths that they are expressing opinions, not right or wrong answers, and that they may change their mind and move to another position.
Once youths are in corners, allow time (3–5 minutes) for a brief discussion so they can discuss reasons for their choices. Discussion can happen in the small corner groups, with a group representative sharing some points with the larger group.
Share with the youths that the alcohol and tobacco industries spend a great deal of money on different forms of advertising to target them as new users.
- Tobacco companies are always looking for new smokers to replace those who die or quit.
- Youths are potential new customers and many have disposable income. Teens often look to advertisements for cues on how to look and behave.
- Studies show that alcohol advertisements can influence adolescent drinking; advertising linked to humour, movies/celebrities, social media, and music is especially appealing.
Working in pairs, youths search a variety of sources (online, library, classroom resources) to find a sample tobacco advertisement targeting youths. While reflecting on the advertisement, youths think, pair, share, and respond to the following questions.
- Do you feel alcohol/tobacco companies specifically target youth? Explain. In addition, how are different groups targeted by these companies (e.g. can you see any ways girls might be targeted versus boys?)?
- Do you feel alcohol/tobacco advertising influences your younger siblings/friends?
- Do you feel alcohol/tobacco advertising influences you? Explain.
Youth pairs share their found media and responses with another pair.
Working in their small groups, they brainstorm, or, if time permits, create counter- advertisements adopting the same advertising techniques used by tobacco or alcohol companies in their found advertisements.
Groups share their responses with the large group.