A recent issue of the journal called Tobacco Control reported that approximately 28 percent of cigarette smokers would try to quit if they knew that secondhand smoke might endanger their pets. Among the authors of this article is the late Ronald Davis, MD, who championed the One Health Initiative when he was president of the American Medical Association. (One Health Initiative is a movement to forge co-equal, all-inclusive collaborations between physicians, veterinarians, and other scientific-health related disciplines.)
The researchers conducted an online survey of 3,293 adults who lived with pets. Approximately 21 percent were smokers and 27 percent lived with a smoker. When informed of the dangers of secondhand smoke to their pets, a percentage of respondents indicated that, not only would they try to quit, they would try to convince other smokers in the household to quit smoking indoors or quit smoking altogether. The researchers concluded that educational campaigns about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure to pets would convince some people to quit smoking, or at least make their homes smoke free.
This is great news, from both the human-health and the pet-health perspectives. We know that cigarette smoke can cause bronchitis in dogs and asthma in cats. Additionally, just as in people, cigarette smoke can cause cancer. Whenever I examine a cat or dog with symptoms referable to asthma or bronchitis, I always ask if anyone in the household is a smoker. Sometimes I don’t even have to ask the question because my patient’s hair coat reeks of cigarette smoke!
Do any of your friends or relatives smoke around their four-legged family members? If so, talk to them about the dangers of second hand smoke. The data from Tobacco Control suggests that approximately 28 percent of them will change their habits based on your conversation! Please let me hear from you after you’ve had a chance to conduct your own research.
Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend a most enjoyable and safe summer!
Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.
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Listen to Dr. Kay’s interview – A Veterinarian Advises “How to Speak for Spot” on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross –