People who refuse to quit smoking even though they know it could damage their health may kick the habit if they believe it could harm their pet, according to an unusual study published on Tuesday.
US researchers asked adult pet owners who lived with dogs, cats or birds in an area of southeastern Michigan to respond to an Internet survey on smoking behavior. A total of 3,293 replied.
Of these, 21 percent were current smokers, smoking an average of 13 and a half cigarettes a day, about half of them in the home. Another 27 percent lived with at least one smoker.
Nearly one in three of the smokers (28.4 percent) said that if they knew that second-hand smoke was bad for their pets, they would give up tobacco.
By comparison, among the non-smokers who lived with a smoker, only 16.4 percent said they would ask their partner to quit if their pet were at risk.
The paper says there is a mound of evidence that passive smoking is as bad for household animals as it is for humans, but many smoking pet-owners are unaware of this risk.
"Educational campaigns informing pet owners of the risks of (second-hand smoke) exposure for pets could motivate some owners to quit smoking," the study suggests hopefully.
"It could also motivate these owners who cohabit with smokers make their homes smoke-free."
The study, published in the British journal 'Tobacco Control', is led by Sharon Milberger of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan.