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Will Americans quit smoking for the love of their pets?

February 10, 2009 | 10:19 am

Secondhand smoke is as dangerous for pets as it is for people If smokers won't quit for their own health, or even for the health of their (human) families, will they quit for their pets?  The authors of a new study published today in the journal Tobacco Control think they just might. Our colleague Shari Roan at the Booster Shots blog has the details:

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.

"It's not necessarily that people love their pets more than they love themselves or their children, it's just another motivational factor for people to consider quitting smoking," Sharon Milberger of the Henry Ford Health System, who led the research, told Reuters.

About 20% of American adults identified themselves as smokers in a 2007 study (the most recent one available), according to the American Cancer Society.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Dimas Ardian /Getty Images

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