Smokers Might Quit for Pets

Some smokers may be willing to quit smoking if informed that secondhand smoke is causing harm to their pets, MSNBC reported Feb. 9.

Researcher Sharon Milberger of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and colleagues found that 28 percent of pet owners who smoke said they would attempt to stop if they knew that secondhand smoke from cigarettes caused health problems for their pets.

The researchers found that 11 percent of 3,293 pet owners said they would think about quitting, and 16 percent of nonsmoking pet owners who lived with someone who smoked would ask the smoker to quit (24 percent would ask the smoker to smoke outside).

Secondhand-smoke exposure may increase a pet’s risk of developing lung cancer, allergies, eye and skin diseases, and respiratory problems. Roughly one-fifth of the 71 million American pet owners are smokers.

“For tobacco-control advocates, on our team we can now have vets and kennels and pet supply stores,” Millberger said. “So, for example, when someone takes Fluffy in to the vet, the vet can ask them about their smoking behavior and whether they allow smoking in their home.”

The findings were published online Feb. 10, 2009 in the journal Tobacco Control.

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