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Cigarette Century: Tobacco and Lung Cancer, 1964-1965

by Chad Curtis with Ray Kimball

Doubt is our product.

How do we know if X causes Y? "The Cigarette Century: Tobacco and Lung Cancer, 1964-1965" explores this question in the context of the congressional debates surrounding tobacco and lung cancer after the publication of the 1964 Surgeon General's Report. Players take on the role of senators, bureacrats, scientists, media representative, and tobacco executives as they seek to interpret the existing body of evidence to inform regulatory policy decisions. The flexible format of the game allows instructors to play the game in statistical and data analysis courses, covering topics including experimental design, data visualization, and measures of risk; as well as well as interdisciplinary and introductory courses exploring topics such as public-facing science, statistical literacy, public policy, and disinformation.



History of Science & Technology, History of Medicine & Health, Political Science & Government, STEM


20th Century

North America

Short Game

Themes and Issues  
Statistical Literacy, Disinformation, Public-Facing Science

Player Interactions 

Sample Class Titles
Statistics for the Biological Sciences

Notable Roles
Dr. Luther Terry, Surgeon General of the United States;

Paul Rand Dixon, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission;

Earle Clements, Chair of the Council for Tobacco Research


Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
Low chaos, Easy for instructors

Using the Game

Class Time  

"Cigarette Century" includes 4 total game sessions (including set-up and debrief) plus 3 optional labs to include more technical statistical content.

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. One might pair this with The Trial of Galileo, Charles Darwin, or Food Fight

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. "Cigarette Century" includes Traditional Paper/Research/Thesis-Driven Writing, Scientific Writing, and Journalism.

Students will need access to computers, especially to access the online applets during labs.

Class Size and Scalability
This game is recommended for classes with 6-29 students.

This game is optimally played with at least 10 roles to include representation from all 5 factions in the game, however it can be scaled down to as few as 6.

In games with less than 10 players, Senate hearings can include testimony from Surgeon General Luther Terry, FTC Chairman Paul Rand Dixon, and tobacco representative Earle Clements rather than from representative of the Scientist faction. Brief written reports can be read in from members of the Scientist faction can be read in for variety.

In games with between 10 and 29 players, session lengths can be adjusted by tuning the allotted time for game member testimony before Congress, anywhere between 1 and 5 minutes per speech. In games with more than 29 players, the gamemaster can double up on roles depending on the emphasis of the game.

For games focusing on the statistics and science aspects, double up on Scientists. For games focusing on public-facing science and disinformation, double on roles in the Industry and Media factions.


Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.  


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content.

Download the Gamebook
(Members Only)

.docx file, Updated June 2024

Instructor's Manual

The Instructor's Guide includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting the game's context and topics, assignments, and more.  The Role Sheets are also included in this document. 

Role Sheets and Labs

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, and their character's secret victory objectives.

"Cigarette Century" also includes optional labs to help students grapple with the science in the game.

Download Role Sheets (Members Only)
.docx file, Updated June 2024

Download Lab Instructions(Members Only)
.docx file, Updated June 2024


Chad Curtis

Dr. Chad Curtis is a professor of data science and analytics at Nevada State University. He teaches courses in programming and statistics and mentors undergraduate researchers in biomedical research projects through the NIH-funded INBRE program. His research interests include nanoparticle therapeutics, machine learning, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. He has authored Reacting games for use in STEM classrooms including "Radioactive: The Chemists, the Anthropologists and the Advent of Radiocarbon Dating" and "The Cigarette Century: Tobacco and Cancer, 1964-1965."

Ray Kimball
Dr. Ray Kimball is the Founder and CEO of 42 Educational Games Coaching and Design, a service that helps higher ed faculty integrate game-based learning into their classrooms. He is the co-author of Eyeball to Eyeball, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis, and a co-editor of Teaching and Learning the West Point Way. He served for 10 years as a faculty member at the U.S. Military Academy, reaching the academic rank of Associate Professor. He holds a Doctorate of Education in Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University and Masters Degrees from Stanford University.


Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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