February 17, 2009
Risks: Pets Might Motivate Smokers to Quit
By ERIC NAGOURNEY
If they won’t curb their smoking to save themselves, how about for poor old Boots?
A new survey suggests that pet owners uninterested in giving up smoking might become motivated to do so if they are told that secondhand smoke could harm their animals.
“Pet owners in the U.S. are very devoted to their pets,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Sharon Milberger of the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan. The study appears in Tobacco Control.
Secondhand smoke has been associated with a variety of problems in pets, including lymphomas in cats and nasal and lung cancer in dogs, the researchers say. Pet birds have also been found to suffer ill effects.
For the study, they conducted an online survey for six months that drew responses from 3,293 pet owners, mostly in Michigan. The survey was advertised, among other places, in pet stores and at the Michigan Humane Society. In all, the survey found, 27 percent of the respondents had at least one smoker in the home.
Among those who smoked, 28 percent said that knowing they were putting their pets at risk would make them try to quit, and nearly 19 percent would not allow smoking in the home. Forty percent expressed interest in information on smoking and quitting.
The findings mean that antismoking advocates may want to reach out to smokers at veterinary offices, pet stores and similar locations.
“This new source of motivation could be particularly strong for smokers who, aside from their animal companions, live alone,” the study said.