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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Opinions on Smuggling

Type: Webquest
Subjects: History, Social Studies
Grades: Grades 9-10
Duration: 1 to 2 lessons
Purpose: To gather information through research; to problem-solve; to express an opinion in writing
Summary: Using a variety of web-based resources, students will investigate and write a 300- to 500-word position paper, detailing their perspective on smuggling.


Smuggling has existed in the world for as long as there have been controls and shortages of products. In Canada, cigarettes are high on the list of smuggled product. Taxes are high and smokers would rather flout the law than pay their taxes. As a result, the black market is booming for cheap cigarettes made in Canada and then smuggled back from the United States.

Present the class with the dilemma that faced governments in Canada. Taxes were raised on cigarettes to curb sales, smuggling of Canadian brands increased across the border from the U.S., and sales of smuggled goods at significantly reduced prices increased sales. Ask students what actions a government can take to deal with smuggling.

The Task

As a group, students will research the reasons, types, responses, and social acceptance of smuggling; take a position on the acceptability of the practice; and write a 300- to 500-word position paper detailing their perspective on smuggling, whether it is something that should be accepted or whether it is something that governments and society should abhor.

The Process

Students begin their research on the topic Butting Out: The Slow Death of Smoking in Canada on the CBC Digital Archives website. They view the clip 'Smuggled smokes flood the market' and the additional clip Overtaxed smokers try to keep it cheap.'   Also read The Story and Did You Know? sections.

Students then form small groups of five to six. They discuss the trail of events described in the video clips and respond to the dilemma of shortages, controls, and increased smuggling. Have them respond to the questions on the download sheet Opinions on Smuggling. Then have students examine a variety of online resources to investigate other kinds of smuggling in Canada and around the world and answer the second set of questions on the download sheet. Students use their research and answers as the basis of their position paper.


Have the groups present their findings and position papers to the class. In a class discussion, try to come to consensus on the issue of smuggling. Ask each student to respond to the following: You get the opportunity to save $1000 on a $2000 item by buying from a smuggler. What would you do and why?

Assessment Tip: In assessing the position papers of each group, look for a consistent argument, supported by at least three good points that clearly support the position.


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