Rachel Hendricks is offering a free tobacco awareness curriculum
- February 21, 2021 -

Did you know?

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and according to the American Heart Association, smoking is responsible for 480,000 American lives lost every year. For reference, that is similar to the total number of deaths in the US from the COVID-19 pandemic. But smoking is undergoing a significant change worldwide with the expansion of alternative tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, hookah, and heat-not-burn tobacco. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, among middle and high school students, 3.6 million were current users of e-cigarettes in 2020, with many initiating the habit before the estimated age of 10 years old.


These alarming facts inspired college senior Rachel Hendricks to create a free curriculum to teach students the dangers of tobacco use. Read on to hear more about Rachel and access the lessons!

Rachel Hendricks is from the Bay Area of California and is currently a senior at Davidson College in North Carolina majoring in Biology and minoring in Data Science. After graduation, she will be a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) before applying for a Master’s program in Genetic Counseling. 

Rachel’s work on the human impacts of alternative tobacco products:

Rachel partnered with Dr. Karen Bernd at Davidson College to understand the toxicity and patterns of waterpipe tobacco smoking, commonly referred to as hookah smoking. She examined cell viability following exposure of type II alveolar cells to tobacco aerosol generated from a standard hookah pipe at the air-liquid interface.

She later adapted her research to focus on the public health and epidemiology of waterpipe tobacco smoke and all other alternative tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, heat-not-burn tobacco, and chewing tobacco. 

Tobacco use Curriculum for grades 4-8:

  •  1-3-day academic unit designed for 4th-8th grade students that synthesizes tobacco use research with pedagogical best practices and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The purpose of the unit is to introduce the choices involved in developing healthy lifestyles, educate students on the health concerns surrounding alternative tobacco product use, and address common misperceptions of products through interactive activities and personal investigation of tobacco industry targeted advertisements and primary literature.

Through the use of surveys, Rachel will assess if knowledge and perceptions have significantly changed after going through the unit. These surveys will be used to measure the effectiveness of the unit in order to provice recommandations for any school to use the unit in the future in a standard health course curriculum. 

How to access Rachel’s curriculum:

  • Rachel is available to teach these units digitally beginning now (2021 school year) and in future years. Email: rahendricks@davidson.edu

  • The written version of this curriculum is being finalized will be available here for direct download/free use for teachers at the end of Spring 2021. Check back to download it here, or email Rachel for updates!