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LESSON PLAN: Sizing Up E⁠-⁠Cigarette Marketing


Students will analyze the messages delivered by e⁠-⁠cigarette marketing and design their own effective anti-vaping advertisements for teens.



  • W.1 Write arguments to support claims
  • RH.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion, or avoidance of particular facts)


  • D4.2 Construct explanations using reasoning with relevant information and data
  • D3.2 Evaluate the credibility of a source


45 Minutes

LESSON PLAN: Sizing Up E⁠-⁠Cigarette Marketing

ACTIVITY: Decode the Marketing Message

Encourage students to uncover the misleading ways e⁠-⁠cigarettes are marketed to teens.


Direct students to find two different advertisements for any product other than e⁠-⁠cigarettes. These may include magazine ads, photos of billboards, or links to television or internet ads. They should choose one ad that they think is aimed at adults and one designed for teens.


As a class or as individuals, analyze the messages delivered by the ads. Guide the discussion, or have the students write their answers down individually, with questions such as:

  • What features do advertisers use to attract attention?
  • How is an advertisement for adults different from one aimed at teens?
  • What platforms might advertisers use to reach adults versus teens (e.g., TV, internet/social media, magazines)?
  • How can an advertisement be misleading to a potential buyer?
    Identify features of an advertisement that might mislead a buyer, for example to persuade them to think something is beneficial for their health when it may not be.

As you discuss the ads, write "Adult" and "Teens" on the board and make a list of the types of ad features aimed at each group.


Have students work individually or collaboratively to complete the Decode the Marketing Message activity sheet.


Instruct students to take what they’ve learned about the dangers of e⁠-⁠cigarettes to create their own ads that tell teens the harms of vaping. Have them think about what platform would be most effective for reaching youth, such as posters, TV ads, blog posts, social media, or magazine ads. Make sure they use features that were listed out in step 2 that will grab the audience’s attention.


Have each pair or individual student present the advertisements they created to the class. Guide students to critically analyze one another’s work. The reviewer form can be found on the Decode the Marketing Message 2 activity page. Questions on the form include:

  • Does it grab a viewer’s attention?
  • If so, how does it grab the viewer’s attention?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Any additional comments or feedback?

Prompt students to use constructive language while discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each ad. For example, a sentence starter could be, "This part grabbed my attention, but that part confused me."


Challenge students to work in small groups to design an anti-vaping campaign for teens. Encourage them to incorporate creative formats to include in their campaign, such as a blog post or series, an art installation, a comic strip, music, or a video series. Discuss what features will lead to a successful campaign, and make a list of critical elements (e.g., captures teens’ attention, includes facts that support the message, etc.).