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Apartment, Community
Smoking Bans Debated




Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Our Bodies
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Social Studies
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Grades 2-up

News Content

Have smoking bans in apartments and communities gone too far?

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, write the word ban on a board or a sheet of chart paper. Ask students What is a ban? They might say it is a rule or law that stops people from doing something. Ask students to give examples of bans with which they are familiar. Write down the ideas they share. For example, they might share that chewing gum is banned from school; loud talking is banned in movie theaters; or smoking is banned in hospitals. After completing the class list, ask Why are bans put in place? (Often bans are intended to protect peoples health, safety, or enjoyment.) Are bans a good idea? Can they go too far?

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: apartment, resident, landlord, insurance, and government. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The mayor is the head of our citys _____. (government)
  • You must be a _____ of Springfield in order to vote in city elections. (resident)
  • Jessie is excited that his family is moving to a new _____ complex that has a swimming pool and tennis courts. (apartment)
  • Uncle Joe reported his neighbors noisy, late-night party to the buildings _____. (landlord)
  • The _____ company paid to repair Sandys car after it was hit from behind on a snowy day. (insurance)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Apartment, Community Smoking Bans Debated.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • "Now renting! Smoke-free apartment living." Thats what a huge sign says on one apartment building in Boston, Massachusetts. That sign might upset some people who feel they are being labeled as outcasts due to their smoking habits, but the owner of the building feels he is offering an option to those who dont want to risk being exposed to other tenants secondhand smoke.
  • A 2008 report underwritten by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that three out of four people whose buildings were not smoke-free either supported immediate implementation of a ban or were neutral. And 43 percent were willing to pay more to live in such a building.
  • Privately owned apartment buildings have a right to establish their own rules. A smoking ban is within their rights because smokers are not a protected class. You cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, or national origin, but the law says nothing about discriminating against smokers. Time after time, courts have upheld the rights of landlords and condo boards to prevent smoking in their buildings.
  • George Koodray, a representative of a national group called The Smokers Club, says theres little anyone can do to fight the bans of smoking in private buildings. But, he told Oregon Public Broadcasting, he fears that todays policy might become tomorrows law.
  • And Koodrays fears might have some foundation. In suburban Belmont, California, the City Council recently passed a community-wide ban on smoking in apartment buildings. The roots of that ban stared growing in 2003 at Bonnie Brae Terrace, a government-subsidized retirement complex. Soon after Ray Goodrich arrived there, he noticed smoke drifting in from neighbors rooms. It gave me an instant headache, kind of like an iron band around the head," Goodrich, an 84-year-old with pulmonary disease and a lifelong allergy problem, told the Belmont Journal. Goodrich finally had enough when a fire broke out in a smokers room in the complex. He started a letter-writing campaign. We need your help," read one of his letters in July 2006. A barking dog disturbs our sleep but will not kill us. Secondhand smoke is killing us." That letter -- and the group of seniors who regularly appeared at community meetings -- caught the attention of the Belmont City Council. After more than a year of deliberation, the Council passed a law in October 2007 that bars smoking anywhere except in detached homes and yards, streets and some sidewalks, and designated smoking areas outside. The law took effect on January 9, 2009.
  • I think Belmont broke through [an] invisible barrier in the sense that it addressed drifting smoke in housing as a public health issue," Serena Chen, a regional director for the American Lung Association of California, told the Belmont Journal. They simply said that secondhand smoke is no less dangerous when its in your bedroom than in your workplace."
  • Im absolutely outraged [about the ban]," says Edith Frederickson, 72, another resident of Bonnie Brae and a two-pack-a-day smoker for 50 years. Theyre telling you how to live and what to do, and theyre doing it right here in America."
  • Community-wide smoking bans are being argued in many communities, including Tacoma, Washington. A proposal there has resulted in a lot of blog talk, including these comments:
    --- Government is getting too big and concerning itself with too many things. It does not need to make laws dictating what people can or can't do in their own homes, as long as they are not really harming others.
    --- Why doesn't Tacoma just ban the sale of tobacco products within the city limits of Tacoma?
    --- How many more rights are they going to take away from us? The government needs to stay out of our personal lives when we are not breaking the law, and as far as I know smoking is not against the law.
  • When the smoking ban debate surfaces, ban advocates often cite a 2006 report on secondhand smoke from the U.S. Surgeon General. The report said that secondhand smoke is harmful and hazardous to the health of the general public and particularly dangerous to children."

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the questions you asked. Did the news story change any ideas expressed before reading it?

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about whether smoking bans have gone too far.
    Note: This particular issue, if viewed strictly from a health angle, is pretty clear. But, for many people, this issue is not so black and white. It is about freedom of choice. Thats where the fuzziness comes in. Many smokers and non-smokers alike dont support apartment or community bans on smoking; they see those bans as legislating freedom. Younger students will probably not see clearly the freedom" issues that surround this debate, and that is ok; you should not expect a sophisticated or nuanced discussion of the gray areas of this debate. Your young students focus on the health aspects of the issue are grade-appropriate and should be supported. As the teacher, it is simply your job to make sure students are aware that some people fear that bans such as those introduced in this news article could be signs that government is getting too involved in aspects of peoples lives where they do not belong.

    Think some more. Write the following expression on a board or a sheet of chart paper:

    "The wind can come into a man's house, but the king cannot."
    Ask students to explain what they think that expression means. For example, to some it might mean that government has no business in someones house (unless a crime is being committed); or that smoking is not a criminal act so smokers should not be treated as criminals.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Health smoking. You will find activities related to smoking in the Education World article, Anti-Smoking Activities 'Permeate' the Curriculum. See other activities too, including a Smoking Danger Demonstration and a review of the childrens book Smoking Stinks.

    Geography smoking bans in your state. Share with students a U.S. map of states with smoke-free laws on the books. Ask students to identify the states that have no 100% smokefree" laws. See additional smoke-free maps.

    Math how much does it cost to smoke? How much does a pack of cigarettes cost in your community? If a smoker smokes two packs of cigarettes a week, how much money will he or she spend in a year?

    Geography cigarette taxes by state. Have students refer to this chart to learn how much tax each state levies on a pack of cigarettes sold in that state. Provide each student with a blank outline map of the United States. Then have each student create a color key for his or her map. The key will show three different colors:
    1) states that charge $.99 (99 cents) or less tax on a pack of cigarettes,
    2) states that charge $1.00 to $1.99 tax per pack, and
    3) states that charge $2.00 tax per pack or more.
    Have students color their map based on the color key they created.


    Have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NPH-H.K-4.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.K-4.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
    NPH-H.K-4.7 Health Advocacy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NPH-H.5-8.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.5-8.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
    NPH-H.5-8.7 Health Advocacy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NPH-H.9-12.1 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
    NPH-H.9-12.3 Reducing Health Risks
    NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences
    NPH-H.9-12.7 Health Advocacy

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science
    NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-C.K-4.1 What Is Government?
    NSS-C.K-4.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
    NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
    NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citizen

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Economics
    GRADES K - 4
    NSS-EC.K-4.11 Money
    NSS-EC.K-4.16 Government in the Economy
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NSS-EC.5-8.11 Money
    NSS-EC.5-8.16 Government in the Economy
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NSS-EC.9-12.11 Money
    NSS-EC.9-12.16 Government in the Economy

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms

    See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2009 Education World