Pets twice as likely to get cancer if exposed to tobacco smoke - Quitline

Source: 1News

Quitline is launching a new anti-smoking campaign encouraging smokers to quit for the sake of their animals, saying research shows dogs and cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owners smoke around them. 

The telephone helpline points out three out of five New Zealand households have a pet  - that's around 4.6 million companion animals - and one out of 10 Kiwis smoke.

It says research shows cats and dogs are particularly prone to the impact of second-hand smoke especially through absorption of harmful chemicals through fur and self-grooming.

Studies also show that cats living in smoking households have a two to four-times increased risk of an aggressive type of mouth cancer called oral squamous cell carcinoma, Quitline says. 

It says research also shows birds are very sensitive to air pollution, including tobacco smoke, and can develop changes to their respiratory system similar to those seen in children exposed to tobacco smoke.

And because nicotine dissolves easily in water, it can eventually end up in a fish tank's water and poison the fish inside it, Quitline says.

"We are aiming to bring awareness to another consequence of smoking, something many of us may not have thought about before is how much harm smoking can cause our pets," says Lance Norman, Quitline spokesperson and Director of Māori Healthcare.

"Going outside to smoke isn't enough for pets or for other members of the whānau - third-hand smoke the residue from smoking, can attach to clothes and follow someone back inside the house and cause harm long after smoking a cigarette," Mr Norman says.