Choices for Life: Liam's Story

The dangers of smoking
Targeted Drugs:

This resource has undergone expert review.

Year 5–6
Time Allocated

Partial lesson (under 45mins)

Links to National Curriculum




Content Especially Suited For



This video is available on YouTube

Watch 'Liam's Story' video

There are 3 videos in this series. See also: Sophie's Story and Scott's Story


Choices for Life, PACE Media Products, Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.


Video length: 15:16

Liam is a promising swimmer but he is beginning to find life stressful both in and out of the pool. When faced with peer pressure to smoke, Liam weighs up the decision, and ultimately demonstrates adaptive refusal strategies. The video also introduces the concept of addiction as well as parental and other social influences on smoking.

Class Activities and Discussion Points

Accompanying Discussion Points
  • Why is Liam distracted during swimming practice?
  • How did Liam’s peer group influence his attitude at school?
  • Liam’s mum describes the dangers of smoking. What does she say?
  • How did drinking alcohol affect the boys and girls at the park?
  • Do you think their behaviour was ‘risky’? Explain why.
  • How could drinking alcohol or smoking have an impact on Johny’s chance of being a footballer or Liam’s swimming ability?
  • Why does Liam put his cigarette out when he is at the park?
  • What benefits will participating in sport bring Liam?
  • Why did speaking to Melissa help Liam?
Follow-up Activities
1. Dreams and Ambitions - write about your dreams and ambitions for the future. Your piece of writing should be in sentences and paragraphs. Include the following:
  • What subjects you like at school
  • What you are good at
  • What your hobbies are
  • What clubs you go to in and out of school
  • What your exam results will be like
  • What/who you think will influence you
  • How do you think you will react to other people’s influences? Will you do what everyone else is doing to fit in? Or will you do what you want to do – even if that means making other friends?
  • How are you going to achieve your dream?
2. Making the transition: Moving on to secondary school can feel like a big step and sometimes people can feel anxious about some aspects of it and really excited about other parts. In groups of 3-4 share some of your concerns and hopes about your move to secondary school with other members of the group.
Note: Activities and Discussion points taken from those suggested by Young Scot.

Expected Benefits

  • Increased general knowledge of tobacco.
  • Increased knowledge of tobacco-related effects and harms.

Evidence Base

Expert Review*:

Liam’s Story is one of three videos in the ‘Choices for Life’ series. These videos are of a very high production quality and feature a young cast who are believable, relatable, and likeable. Each video follows the story of a particular teenager and their experiences as they encounter drug/alcohol use. Despite covering many potential consequences of drug use, the videos avoid being preachy or unbelievable. While the depicted consequences are serious, they are not sensationalised. The central message follows a social influence approach—an effective and well-supported model for drug prevention with young people. The context, messages and drug-related consequences are suitable for and relevant to the target age group. Teachers should note the actors speak with Scottish accents although the content should be easily understandable for most students.

Liam’s Story focuses on the social aspects of tobacco smoking. The story explores the social, cultural and environmental factors that influence substance use, and Liam models adaptive drug refusal skills. Suggestions for companion class activities and discussion points are provided, including interdisciplinary learning ideas, to allow for further reflection on the key themes. Taken together, this is an excellent resource which maps onto a significant proportion of Alcohol and other Drugs (AD) components of the Australian Health and Physical Education curriculum for Year 5–6.

* Review provided by researchers at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney.

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