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Monday, February 16, 2009

Study: 1 in 4 smokers might quit for pet

Cigarette smoking prematurely causes one in every five U.S. deaths, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet a recent study suggests that one in four smokers would consider quitting not for themselves, but for their pets, given the proper research connecting tobacco smoke with animal illness.

The research is out there. Tobacco smoke in the house affects every living thing therein -- of course. It shouldn't take proof of certain cancers in dogs and cats, allergies in dogs, and eye and skin diseases and respiratory problems in birds to consider the risk, but the study provided proof anyway.

According to the report, published in the February issue of Tobacco Control journal:

• 28.4 percent of smokers would feel motivated to quit
• 14.2 percent of smokers would stop smoking indoors
• 8.7 percent of smokers would ask people with whom they live to quit
• 16.4 percent of nonsmokers would ask people with whom they live to quit
• 24.2 percent of nonsmokers would ask people with whom they live to stop smoking indoors

What gets me is that in a vacuum, the last two figures show that even nonsmokers prioritize their pets' health over their own. (Yes, just living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chances of developing lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent, according to the Surgeon General.)

Study data counted online survey responses from nearly 3,300 pet owners, mostly white women from southeastern Michigan. A current follow-up will determine whether they'd actually walk the talk. I wonder whether the results would be similar nationwide.

On a personal note, I live with a outdoor smoker. His habit frustrates me, but at least he respects my health and comfort.

Pets deserve respect, too, and I hope this study leads non-smoking campaigns to an effective deterrent.

Now if only the risk to their own health -- and the non-smoking humans living with them -- were enough.

-- Sandra M. Klepach


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