Refusal Skills Activities


This page contains all refusal skills activities that are in the Tobacco Prevention Toolkit. These activities are designed to help youth build the skills necessary to refuse the use of nicotine and tobacco products.  Here they are presented as non-specific templates that can each be used to discuss any tobacco/nicotine product.  

Creative Ways to Say No

30 minutes


Provide the opportunity for students to brainstorm and practice resistance skills.


Materials Needed: White Board or Easel Paper, Markers, Computer, Internet Access, and a Projector

Handout: “Unit 5: Activity 1: Your Influences”


Brainstorm (5 minutes)

Project the “UNIT 5: Activity 1: Your Influences” handout or provide students with a copy, and have students fill in thought bubbles with examples of people or facts that influence their opinions about e-cigarettes/vape pens. Ask for a few volunteers to share examples that came to mind and fill them in the thought bubbles on the handout.

Role Play (10-20 minutes)

This activity can be done in pairs or in small groups. The group option will probably take more time but can be very engaging and impactful.

Small Group Option: In this options, split the class into small groups of three. Each group will create and act out a real life scenario of a young person being pressured to smoke.  Then, the rest of the class will brainstorm ways for the group to resolve the situation and the group will act out the audience’s suggestions. 

Thank the students for their participation and acknowledge the importance of body language and tone of voice. Saying no isn’t just what we say, but how we say it!

Pair Option: This option will allow students to take turns role playing a young person resisting pressure to use an e-cig/vape. If time allows, a couple of pairs should act out the scenario in front of the class.


If time allows, ask for volunteers to act out one of their scenarios for the group. Thank the students for their participation and acknowledge the importance of body language and tone of voice. Saying no isn’t just what we say, but how we say it!

Optional Group Projects / Homework:

In pairs or small groups, students can film their resistance skits. Divide the class into groups of 3-4 students.

Each group should select one person in the group to be the director, who will work to keep them on track. The other members can choose to be actors in the skit, the videographer, and/or the editor.

Each group will role play and record a situation where one student is being pressured to use e-cigarettes/vape pens.

The students should demonstrate creative ways to say no. Give the students five minutes to come up with the script/scenario and fifteen minutes to record the videos using a phone or camera.

Walk around the room, helping groups as needed. Give a warning signal (i.e. “you have two more minutes”) and then bring the groups back together.

The following day each director should introduce the group and then play their video. Be sure to lead applause after each group.

'Real'-fusal Skills

30 minutes


-       To formulate ways to say no in three different situations, in which the same tobacco product is being offered.

-       To witness the potential and realistic dialogue that may take place in these different situations.

-       To discuss the many ways to refuse these products, based on how the scenes are portrayed by student groups.


-       Scene/Environment cards

-       White Board or easel pad

-       Teacher only: Suggested Character Roles


-       Instructor Pre-Work

o   Print and cut out scene/environment cards.

▪      Download contains two copies of the same scene card (6 cards total).

▪      You may give 1 or 2 of the same scene card to each group, depending on the size of the group.

▪      One page works for 3-6 groups.

-       Student Pre-Work

o   NONE


1.           Activity:

a.     Divide the class into small groups.

i.            Let the class know they will have to create a skit.

b.     Give each group at least one of the following scene cards (some groups will have the same scene):

i.           Family pool party

ii.          Huge house party, in which you know half (1/2) of the people

iii.         Hanging out at the mall with new friends

c.      Each scene will have a detailed description along with the task of creating a skit.

i.            (Optional) If any groups are having a difficult time creating a skit, you may consider using the “Suggested Character Roles” sheet to assign roles. The roles are listed below:

•       Social activist

•       Valedictorian

•       Geek wants to be bro

•       Class clown

•       Rule follower

•       Troublemaker

•       Initiator (person offering the tobacco product)

ii.             Each character role will contain a short description/background and an objective.

iii.            These are recommended roles, not mandatory ones.

d.     Give groups 15-20 minutes to prepare their 1-3 minute creative skits, illustrating the different responses based on their assigned environment.

e.     Have groups present in front of the class.

2.           Wrap-Up:

a.     Ask class the following questions:

i.            From the skits illustrated, what are some other responses that you would expect to see based on each environment?

ii.           Is it okay to blame a “no”-response on parents/guardians?

iii.          You come home from a party and your parent(s)/guardian(s) ask(s), “Was there [cigarettes, e-cigarettes/vape/JUULs & other pod-based systems, hookah, smokeless, or any other nicotine products] at the party?”

1.           How would you answer?

iv.           What if you are alone with your romantic partner and they encourage you to smoke, vape, use hookah, use smokeless, or use any other nicotine products?

1.           How would you answer?

Wheel of Refusal

15 minutes


-       To initiate conversation between students and help brainstorm various ways to refuse being offered a tobacco product.

-       Students will gain/be exposed to new strategies by composing a wheel with refusal skills.


-       Piece of paper

-       Pen or Pencil

-       Large easel pad, whiteboard, or chalkboard


-       Instructor Pre-Work

        o   NONE

-       Student Pre-Work

        o   NONE


1.     Activity:

a.     Instruct students to draw a wheel with 8 equal pie pieces, on a blank piece of paper.

b.     Allow students 3-5 minutes to fill out half of the wheel with strategies/ways to “say no” or refuse any tobacco product.

c.      If students are struggling to come up with strategies, state that they will have an opportunity to fill out their wheel as the activity continues. 

d.     Once completed, have students meet in pairs.

e.     For 2-3 minutes, students can discuss their answers.

f.      Reconvene as a class and draw the same wheel on a large easel pad, whiteboard or chalkboard. This will be the class wheel.

g.     Ask a few students to share one or two of the refusal skills they wrote down with the entire class.

h.     While listening to responses, think about the common themes and use that information to fill out the class wheel.

i.       When looking at the answers/responses, make sure none of these are making fun of or putting down people.

i.     We want to encourage, if at all, possible answers that do not make fun of, put down or humiliate users.

j.       Encourage students to use the class wheel as guide to complete the rest of their wheel.

2.     Wrap-Up:

a.     Questions:

i.     What strategies could you see yourself using? Why?

ii.     Any strategies you may not want to use? Why?

iii.     Is it okay to blame a “no”-response on parents/guardians?