« Back to Winter 2015

Integrating E-Cigarette Content Into Project ALERT

by Pamela Luna

Project ALERT Director’s note: Dr. Pamela Luna, a senior Project ALERT trainer, drafted the following suggestions to help instructors facilitate discussion about e-cigarettes into the established Project ALERT curriculum. As drug popularity and culture surrounding use fluctuates, it is important for Project ALERT teachers to stay informed about changes and be prepared to respond to student questions. The suggested modifications to the original Project ALERT curriculum, while not empirically tested, still match the core principles that drive the effectiveness of Project ALERT.

For additional help on how to integrate information on e-cigarettes into the program, in-person training is also available. Teachers might also benefit from refresher training, and Project ALERT trainers can help you out at a reasonable rate. Contact us to plan an in-person training that suits your needs. The following suggestions for e-cigarette inclusion are in line with the Project ALERT manual found online at

Core Lesson 2: Consequences of Smoking Cigarettes and Marijuana

Activity 3: Compare Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco

In the discussion of effects for smokeless tobacco, ask “Which of these effects are also true for electronic cigarettes?”

Note that the long-term health effects of using e-cigarettes are unknown, yet are potentially harmful.  No one knows for sure what long-term damage vaping will do to your body.  And we won’t know for years. Here are some resources to review with or prior to discussions with students to help you answer their questions:

Resources for Classroom Use:
Resources for Teachers:
Core Lesson 4: Introduction to Pressures

Activity 6: Rewrite Substance Ads
When reviewing ads for substances (currently alcohol and tobacco only), include ads for traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes. Also, for the homework, when students are asked to “make a list of the slogans of all the ads for alcohol and cigarettes you see or hear on radio, billboards, magazines, television or internet/websites,” ask them to also include ads related to e-cigarettes, including ads and signs for vape shops.

Core Lesson 9: Review and Practice Resistance Techniques

Activity 5: Play the Benefits Game

When asking students to play the Benefits game, in the part where “which group can be the first to come up with eight benefits of not using tobacco - cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars,” include e-cigarettes and have students list the benefits of not using tobacco and/or e-cigarettes.

You may notice other opportunities to discuss e-cigarettes throughout the lessons. The best way to prepare is to learn about the negative effects of e-cigarettes (including staying up-to-date on the emerging research in the field) so you can give informative answers to students when they ask about e-cigarettes. Many of the messages they may be receiving is that they are “safer than cigarettes,” “are not addicting,” or, if they are already using cigarettes regularly, “an effective way to quit smoking.”

Image courtesy of Fotolia, copyright KarSol. Used by permission.

Mailing List

Sign-up for The ALERT Educator