Anatomy of a Puff
This item is included in the following series/curriculum: Curriculum in a Box: Tobacco
Running Time: 15 minutes
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Using scientific facts and targeted humor, program alerts viewers to the variety of toxic, carcinogenic and addictive substances found in every puff of cigarette smoke. A young host describes how nicotine is by some measures more addictive than cocaine and heroin, and how tar contributes to lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. Describes the industrial uses of benzene, arsenic, cyanide, formaldehyde, and ammonia, toxic chemicals all found in every puff. Students learn that cigarette smoke contains radioactive polonium-210 and that a pack-and-a-half a day smoker absorbs a level of radiation equivalent to 300 chest x-rays a year! Viewers learn that it is not just smokers who are exposed to these risks. Thousands of nonsmokers die from lung cancer and heart disease each year from exposure to second-hand smoke.
DVD & VHS Format: video, plus teacher’s resource book, student handouts and pre/post tests in digital format
Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC): Notable Children's Video
Describing a cigarette as a "dirty delivery system" for nicotine, a 20-something host focuses on the harmful chemicals inhaled by smokers. Standing in a smoke cloud to start, he describes by-products such as pesticides, arsenic, benzene, ammonia, formaldehyde, and others, in terms of their carcinogen content, affects on the central nervous system, and why they are used in the making of a cigarette. For example, pesticides from growing tobacco remain in the leaves even after it is washed, and ammonia is added because it increases the affect of the nicotine. Teens will identify with the other common uses for some of these chemicals, such as arsenic in rat poison, benzene in gasoline, and formaldehyde in preserving biology specimens. Students might be surprised to learn that hydrogen cyanide was used in the gas chambers by the Nazis, and that the amount of polonium-210, a radioactive substance, absorbed by a pack-per-day smoker is equivalent of 300 chest x-rays every year. Clearly blaming tobacco companies for manipulating the ingredients used in cigarettes to hook users on nicotine, the program shows President Obama signing a health reform bill that includes a prohibition for labeling "light" or low-tar cigarettes, which are not less harmful than regular cigarettes. Succinct information is reinforced with word images, colorful graphics, medical illustrations, and an off-screen echoing voice—all just gimmicky enough to appeal to teens. The excellent teacher's resource manual includes activity sheets, fact sheets, and more. By narrowing the focus of a multifaceted topic, this program neatly fills a niche in the antismoking curriculum.
- Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
School Library Journal
Highly Recommended Anatomy of a Puff is a brief overview of the chemicals found in cigarettes and the physical consequences that occur when smoked. Nicotine dependence, tobacco companies, and secondhand smoke are briefly covered. The DVD is highly recommended because it meets its stated learning objectives; uses clear language and visuals; and because its length of fifteen minutes makes it easy to use in the classroom. It is aptly-titled because the main goal of the DVD is to communicate the fact that the chemicals are so effective, smokers are often addicted after their first puff.
After highlighting the effects of the chemicals used in cigarettes (tar, benzene, arsenic, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and hydrogen cyanide), it emphasizes the fact that while nicotine is the ingredient that makes cigarettes addictive, these chemicals make it even more addictive. Visuals include video footage, clear, readable fonts for informative text, and animation appropriate for the middle and high school age groups. Two of the most effective visuals in this DVD are a close-up of a cigarette tip turning red when the smoker inhales and a high school-age girl inhaling and exhaling. These two clips are used effectively throughout the program to enhance the DVD’s learning objectives and to provide continuity.
Intended for students in middle and high school, the DVD is packaged with fact sheets and student activities to use in the classroom. Activities include a pre/post test, a list of questions to research, questions to use when interviewing someone for a smoking history, discussion questions for learning about tobacco dependence, and a worksheet for learning about additives. Fact sheets mainly cover the chemicals in the DVD and a list of resources to consult for more information. This DVD is highly recommended and can easily be integrated into units on smoking in the middle and high school health curriculum. Libraries that serve students in this age group and academic libraries that contain curriculum collections should consider purchasing Anatomy of a Puff.
- Margie Ruppel, Boise State University