Apr 292009
Authors: Ashley Robinson

Everyone knows that second-hand smoke is just generally bad for a smoker’s friends, family and all the humans the smoker into contact with daily.

But does anyone consider the effects on “man’s best friend?”

Pets exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop various forms of cancer than animals that have not been exposed according to information from Hartshorn Health Center –/an idea that was communicated to CSU dog-owners at Wednesday’s seventh annual Stomp, Romp and Wag event.

“We try to reach college students through their pets because they don’t have kids,” said Megan Vernetti, a graduate student in charge of Health Promotions at Hartshorn.

As students and their dogs traversed the North Lawn of the Hartshorn Health Center, hitting up doggie ice cream booths and relaxing with dog massages and nail trimmings, they learned that pets suffer even when not exposed to smoke directly.

Even if a person smokes outside away from their pets, cigarette residue left on a person’s fingers can be transferred to dogs and cats through petting or licking, Vernetti said.

Cigarette residue can also transfer to birds, causing them to pull out their feathers as a result of a disease called contact dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin that results from direct contact with certain allergens, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Students said the event was a necessity and could lead to an improved quality of life for smoker’s pets.

“It’s a really good idea,” sophomore psychology major Katie Mussell said. “People really care for their pets; if they realize smoking hurts their pets, it might help.”

Others were not as sure.

“I don’t know if this event will really help,” said junior history major Dustin Albright, who attended the event. “It really is only a difference of about three years in a dog’s life. I’m not sure if that’s enough to get people to quit.”

The group that created Stomp, Romp and Wag seven years ago received a grant from the Colorado Collegiate Tobacco Prevention Initiative to fund the project./

The CCTPI specifically targets the 18- to 24-year-old population because it has the highest tobacco use rates out of any age group.

While the day’s message was focused on the furry and feathered, it served as a general campaign against smoking.

Volunteers from Hartshorn, numbering 16, spent 46 hours picking up cigarette butts between the Health Center and the Lory Student Center Plaza to show how much trash is created by the habit./They filled ten two-liter bottles.

/Members of the Cigarette is Dead campaign also participated in the event by handing out T-shirts, lighters, bags and health advice.

/The Cigarette is Dead campaign, which made an appearance at the gala, promotes free resources such as the Colorado Quit Line and http://fixnixer.com rather than scaring people into quitting.

/”I like the idea and how they present it,” said Shawn Walker, a representative for the campaign. “It’s not in your face like other campaigns; it has a more positive approach towards people.”

Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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