The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Legacy Foundation are challenging cat and dog owners to quit smoking for their pets’ health in honor of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month this April.
Smokers with pets are asked to “take it outside” or even better, quit, the organizations said. Washington, D.C.-based Legacy is a national independent public health foundation dedicated to keeping young people from smoking and providing resources to smokers who want to quit.
Legacy and the ASPCA said that pet owners who smoke will strive to quit once they learn about the dangers of secondhand smoke to pets. For example, a growing body of research – including the Surgeon General’s Report – shows there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke for humans and for animals.
An estimated 50,000 Americans die from secondhand smoke annually and 4 million youths (16 percent) are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, the organizations said. Studies have indicated that animals, too, face health risks when exposed to the toxins in secondhand smoke, from respiratory problems to allergies and even cancer.
While most Americans are educated about the dangers of smoking to their own bodies and their children’s, it is equally important that pet owners take action to protect their companion animals from the dangers of secondhand smoke, said Dr. Cheryl Healton, DrPH, president and CEO of Legacy.