If you are a smoker, November 20 is a great time to quit. Thousands will give up cigarettes for 24 hours during the Great American Smokeout. By quitting permanently, we increase the chances of living a long, healthy life. And since secondhand smoke doesn’t discriminate between humans and animals, quitting benefits everyone in a household.
Secondhand Smoke and Pets
According to cancer.org, about one in five U.S. adults smoke cigarettes (more than 43 million people). And nearly 16 million people smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes, which also cause cancers. This means plenty of pets are at risk.
ASPCA.org is a great resource and strongly urges pet parents to designate their homes as smoke-free areas. They cite a recent study by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, which underscores the link between secondhand smoke and cancer in pets. According to the study, secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals.
The study also finds the following: Cats are particularly susceptible to tobacco smoke, and that repeated exposure to secondhand smoke doubled a cat’s chances of getting cancer. Living with a smoker for more than five years increased the risk four times. Lymphoma is one of the leading causes of feline death.
If you are a pet parent who smokes, be on the lookout for the symptoms of cancer, including coughing, trouble eating or breathing, drooling, weight loss, vomiting, nasal discharge, bleeding, and sneezing.
Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. The Great American Smokeout is an opportunity to kick the habit for good – for yourself, your family and your furry friends. Smoking rates among adults and youth have been cut in half since 1964 when the first “Report on Smoking and Health” came out 50 years ago. The 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health is posted at www.surgeongeneral.gov/initiatives/tobacco/.
If you smoke, consider participating in the Great American Smokeout and take that first step toward a smoke-free life. Check out these links to become more familiar with secondhand smoke and pets. www.tufts.edu/vet; www.aspca.org; www.legacyforhealth.org and www.morrisanimalfoundation.org.