Stop Smoking - For Your Pet's Health As Well As Yours

Would You Stop If It Affected Fido's Health?

Let me say this right from the start - I hate cigarettes. I hate the smell of them. I hate the way I smell when I come back from a restaurant or bar - the word "ashtray" comes to mind. Still, I understand that it is a smoker's right to smoke in states where it is allowed - it is our constitutional right - blah, blah, blah. Let me also say that I live in Virginia - a state which became known for its tobacco production and consumption. Consequently, I think I have to put my hands up and say that if smoking is ever banned, and that is a strong if, Virginia will probably be the last of the states to do it.

We all know now that smoking, and the secondhand smoke it produces, is dangerous for your health. We're not living in the 1920's when the health risks weren't known. Nicotine is just so addicting, it's very hard to quit. So, imagine my surprise when I was given a link to a survey which basically states that for many pet owners, they would not quit for themselves, but would quit if it affected the health of their pet. Now, as the survey points out, what people say they will do and what they will do are two very different things. But just the simple mentality behind it moves me. For many of us, pets are part of our family. Many of us would go to any lengths to protect our family. It would appear that this means our pets as well.

The survey suggests that 1 out of 3 pet owners would quit smoking if they learned that the secondhand smoke caused a danger to their pets. Studies have linked smoke exposure to oral cancer and lymphoma in cats and nasal and lung cancer in dogs. Even birds can be victims: A 2007 study found a link between secondhand smoke, lung cancer, and eye, skin, and heart problems in pet birds. The survey, which included nearly 3,300 pet owners, was published this week in the journal Tobacco Control. Overall, 28.4 percent of smokers said they would consider quitting after learning that secondhand smoke posed a danger to their pet. One in five smoking pet owners said they would ban smoking inside their home.

So, could this be a different way to get people to think not only of their pets' health, but their own? If people don't believe smoking will do them damage, but believe it could cause damage to their pet, will it really get them to quit smoking? It would seem that it has certainly placed a thought into people's minds that their second hand smoke may cause harm to their pets. Also, because our pets are smaller than us, the smoke can affect these animals much quicker as it runs through their little bodies. Our neighbor downstairs smokes quite a bit on his balcony and the smoke seeps up into our apartment. One fall day it was particularly bad and I remember going to pet one of my cats and smelling the smoke on his fur. It bothered me to no end that my cat was receiving the "tail" end of the smoke. So how much worse could it be for a bird, cat, hamster, rabbit, or dog that is inside the home? As stated before, sometimes people will say they would quit, but find it far too hard. But certainly this survey and research points to how much pets mean to their owners, and how many owners would be willing to change their lifestyles if it benefited their furbabies. I know I would do whatever it took to keep my babies healthy. Only time will tell if they really mean it. To me though, just the thought that people would change their lifestyle for their pet, is hope enough. (

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