Can Smokers Hold their Breath as long as Non-Smokers?

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Updated on Sep 07, 2012

Grade Level: 5th-8th; Type: Health Science


In this experiment, we will see whether smokers can hold their breath as long as non-smokers can.

Research Questions:

  • What are some of the ways people can quit smoking?
  • Can you name any other health effects of smoking?

Smoking is when a substance such as tobacco is burned and then inhaled or tasted. The leading cause of why people smoke is peer pressure. In other words, people smoke because “their friends do it” or “the cool people do it”. There are really no benefits that come from smoking. But there is a lot of harm that does. Smoking may cause black lungs, lung cancer, lung failure, heart disease, breathing problems, premature death, and many other health-related issues. Quitting smoking is difficult for many because they can become addicted to the nicotine. So many people will keep smoking and once they are hooked, it is very difficult to stop.


  • Test subjects: at least 25 non-smokers; at least 25 smokers; keep the numbers of both test groups equal
  • A stopwatch/timer
  • Pen and paper for notes

Experimental Procedure

  1. First you should ask your test subjects if they smoke or not and group them accordingly.
  2. Test your subjects by timing them when they hold their breaths for as long as they can. You should put 2 fingers in front of their nose and mouth to see when they start to breathe. Stop the timer at that point.
  3. Repeat the above steps for all your test subjects.
  4. Determine whether there is a significant different between the ability to hold breaths of smokers vs. non-smokers and calculate the average times.

Suggested Chart

Average Time Breath Was Held



Terms/Concepts: Smoking; Tobacco; Nicotine; Breathing


Ashes to Ashes: The History of Smoking and Health(1998) edited by S. Lock, L.A. Reynolds and E.M. Tansey 2nd ed. Rodopi.ISBN 9042003960

Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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