Record number of people are ditching cigarettes improving the air that their pets breathe

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Cat smoking a cigarette

Thousands of cats and dogs will be breathing cleaner air thanks to coronavirus. Covid-19 has scared a lot of smokers into stopping. It’s reported that more than 643,000 smokers in England quit in the 12 months to August which compares very favourably with 307,000 in all of 2019 according to the UCL Smoking Toolkit Study.

The Director of Policy at Action on Smoking and Health, Hazel Cheeseman, said that the figures are phenomenal and that the increase in people giving up smoking is likely to be driven by the pandemic. This year, twice the percentage of people are giving up compared to last year and even more than in 2007 when smoking was banned in enclosed public spaces.

Second-hand cigarette smoke harms cats and dogs


Second-hand cigarette smoke harms cats and dogs. Photo credit as stated on the photo.

In the UK, 14.7% of people smoke. In 2007 it was 24.2%. Perhaps the desire to stop is because they are frightened of Covid-19 because data indicates that smokers are twice as likely to be taken to hospital with Covid-19. Another reason is that people don’t want to clog up the NHS in the UK because of their smoking habit. This is because the NHS is under increased pressure because of the pandemic. They perhaps realise that they are being selfish to burden the NHS unnecessarily.

Another reason given is that the change in lifestyle because of Covid-19 has removed the usual cues or triggers for smoking. It’s as if their lives have been reset.

And now to the point of the article. This news is good news for cats and dogs in the UK. Second-hand cigarette smoke contains about 7,000 different chemicals, many of which are toxic. Some cause cancer as we know. Breathing in the vicinity of a smoker exposes a cat or dog to these dangerous chemicals. People know that smoking carries severe health implications but it seems that in the past people have failed to recognise the effect that it might have on their companion animals.

Dogs exposed to second-hand smoke can contract more eye infections, respiratory health issues, lung cancer and allergies. They have an increased risk of nasal cancer according to a study at Colorado State University. The length of a dog’s nose dictates the kind of cancer they suffer from in the nose. A dog with a long nose has a 250% higher risk of developing a nasal tumour due to the toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke which accumulate in nasal mucus. Short noses are less effective trappers of these carcinogens but they reach the lungs which is why short nosed dogs are more likely to develop lung cancer than nose cancer.

Pet cancer and cigarette smoke


Pet cancer and cigarette smoke. Photo: PoC.

Cats and dogs groom themselves with their tongue. These carcinogens rests on their coats. Therefore they lick them off into their mouths where they can develop tumours in their mouths. Pets also lie around carpets and sofas et cetera. These household items may be covered in cigarette smoke carcinogens. They are transmitted to the pet where they are licked off and ingested.

I am stating the obvious so I won’t go on. It’s just great news that there is going to be thousands of companion animals in the UK who are going to be safer and live healthier lives thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. This is another silver lining to this catastrophe. When lockdowns first happened, it was marvellous for many people including me. There was no traffic, the air was cleaner and it was much quieter. If only we could have captured those benefits and carried them forward but we haven’t. We can’t as we are not organised well enough.