Quitting smoking is tough. But if smokers won't do it for their own good, or the benefit of family members, some may do it for their pets, say the authors of a study published today in the journal Tobacco Control.
Secondhand smoke is as dangerous for pets as it is for the non-smoking people who live with smokers. Non-smokers who live with smokers have to worry about the risk of lung cancer and respiratory diseases. But even dogs and cats exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of lung cancer, allergies, eye and skin diseases and respiratory problems. Few smokers realize the health impact on their pets, however, said the authors of the study.
The researchers, from the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, conducted an online survey of 3,300 people, 1 in 5 of whom were smokers and 1 in 4 of whom lived with a smoker. More than one-quarter of the smokers said that knowing that smoking was bad for their pets would motivate them to give it up. Among nonsmokers who lived with smokers, 16% said such knowledge would prompt them to ask their partners to quit. Almost 20% of the smokers and 40% of the nonsmokers said they would not allow smoking inside the house if it imperiled their pets.
The study raises the possibility that smoking cessation campaigns may work better if they were targeted to pets' health. As the researchers noted: "Pet owners in the U.S. are very devoted to their pets."
-- Shari Roan
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