SDSU’s Fun Run promotes secondhand smoke awareness for students

Jordan Jones

Jordan Jones

SDSU Tobacco Coalition is hosting a 5k Fun Run and Walk to bring awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoking.

The 3.1 mile run will start at 4 p.m. on Nov. 20. Sign-up is from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. on the day of the event. The Fun Run will begin at the front of The Wellness Center and from there travel down Eighth Street. It will head past McCrory Gardens and turn north on 22nd Avenue. From 22nd Avenue, the run will turn left and head past the HPER Center and through the football parking lot. After turning by Caldwell Hall, the Fun Run ends at the Wellness Center, said Lee Walraven, a health promotions major and member of the SDSU Smoking Coalition.

The Fun Run is to celebrate the Great American Smoke Out. The first 50 participants to register will receive free T-shirts. More than a dozen participants have already signed up.

“My roommates and I are actually going to run the race together. Earlier this fall, I was training for a full marathon and got them started on running too,” said junior Nikki Reiff, a health promotion and pre-occupational therapy major. “This is going to be their first 5k, and we are all excited to go out, have fun and run it together.”

A booth will be set up inside The Wellness Center, and students will hand out information on smoking, said Walraven. In light of the time of year and upcoming holiday, the theme is “Quitting Cold Turkey.” The free T-shirts display a shivering turkey across the front and have a non-smoking theme. Shirts will be handed out before and after the run.

“The smoking awareness definitely plays a role in why I’m running,” said Reiff. “It’s something I am concerned about and being involved in HEROH (Helping Everyone Reach Optimal Health), I wanted to run for a good cause.”

In the event of bad weather, the run will still continue but will instead be held inside The Wellness Center. If weather moves the run indoors, it will likely be shortened, said Walraven.

In previous years, the SDSU Tobacco Coalition gave out shirts in The Union for tossing bean bags. The year before that, they held a 5k run.

According to the American Lung Cancer Association, secondhand smoke is the cause of “approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700 to 69,600 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers” in the U.S. every year.

“Smoking, as well as being exposed to secondhand smoke, has been proven to be extremely harmful to our health,” said Sarah Elhoff, a junior health promotion major.

“For that reason, I am strongly against smoking and hope to promote quitting any way that I can on this nationally celebrated day.”

According to the Surgeon General, there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke. Even a short period in secondhand smoke can increase the chance of heart attack by reducing the heart rate variability.

The American Lung Cancer Web site said secondhand smoke levels were two to five times higher in bars and restaurants than in homes owned by smokers.

Statistics like these are one reason students should participate in the race, but Reiff and Elhoff said the 5k has other perks, too.

“This is a 5k run. You don’t necessarily have to race. … It’s not really all that competitive, but more of a fun way to get out and be active.