Tobacco control workshops for school teachers in Jordan

During the last week of November, the Cancer Control Office (CCO) at King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) – the regional partner for Global Bridges in the Eastern Mediterranean- conducted several workshops targeting teachers and school health supervisors from more than 100 schools participating in the National Healthy Schools Accreditation Program. The workshops were organized in collaboration with the Royal Health Awareness Society, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.

The CCO conducted three separate workshops. The first one was in the capital city, Amman, with about a 100 participants. The second was in Irbid City in the north of Jordan and the number of participants reached 50. As for the last one, it was in Karak City in the south of Jordan where the number of participants reached 40.

The workshops aimed to raise teachers’ awareness of the tobacco epidemic to enable them to spread awareness of the harms of tobacco use among their students, as a way to reduce the tobacco prevalence in schools, and to help smoking students to quit. Different topics were discussed during the workshops including the harms of tobacco use to the human body, ways to build students’ capacity to protect themselves from tobacco, and finally, tobacco dependence and its treatment. The tobacco dependence topic was presented in a simple way that accommodated the varying backgrounds of the participants. The topic of counseling in tobacco dependence treatment was presented through a case study that showed the role of the counselor and counseling principles.

The workshops displayed interactive anti-tobacco models that showed the harms of tobacco use and the benefits of quitting in an effective way. Two separate sessions were conducted during each workshop. In the first session, the CCO displayed the models that show the harms of tobacco use to the human body in a scientific way. These models include the unhealthy lungs that suffer from tobacco related diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema; the smoker’s mouth that includes yellow teeth, tongue cancer and the black hairy tongue which reduces the senses of smell and taste among smokers; tar accumulation in lungs over a one-year period of smoking; and the phlegm accumulation in lungs over a two-week period of smoking.

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In the second session, the CCO displayed the models that show the harms of tobacco use and the benefits of quitting in an engaging way that enabled teachers to conduct certain activities at schools. These models included cloudy goggles that show the harms of tobacco use to the human eyes in a way that mimics cataracts. Teachers were asked to throw the ball into a basket, once while wearing the goggles and once without them, in order to see how the vision of a smoker may suffer from cataract disease. A barrel-shaped paperboard showed teachers the timeline of health benefits after stopping smoking, and worked by moving the external layer of the paperboard to read the benefits written on the internal layer. A display of tangible demonstrations of both the toxins in tobacco and ways to quit smoking were also presented. Participants were highly engaged in the interactive sessions as they provided them with ideas to create and implement such models in their own schools, or to discuss these ideas with their students and enable them to create some of the models on their own as a way of engaging them in the subject. Teachers expressed their belief that these interactive activities may affect and influence students’ behavior.

Participants discussed and inquired about many topics related to tobacco control and to the national policies regarding tobacco. Many teachers requested that the CCO team provide sessions for students in their schools to raise their awareness regarding the tobacco epidemic.

About the Author: Aisha Shtaiwi is the Communication and Outreach Specialist at the Cancer Control Office at KHCC. She works closely with the media as well as the community in the field of cancer control and tobacco control.