If smokers won't quit for their own good -- or the benefit of family members -- some might do it for their pets. That, of course, is assuming they understand the health effect on their pets.
Secondhand smoke is as dangerous for pets as it is for the nonsmoking people who live with smokers. Nonsmokers who live with smokers have to worry about the risk of lung cancer and respiratory diseases, and even dogs and cats exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of lung cancer, allergies, eye and skin diseases and respiratory problems.
But few smokers realize the health risk to animals, said the authors of a new study published Tuesday in the journal Tobacco Control -- even though when people were asked if they would give up smoking if it brought harm to their pets, many said they would.
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