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Pet problems may deter smokers

Tuesday February 10th, 2009

Researchers say they have found a new way of persuading smokers to give up - warn them of the impact on their pets.

Animals exposed to regular tobacco smoke risk cancer, allergy, breathing problems and eye and skin diseases, doctors warned.

A study in North America found that few smokers realised the impact of the habit on the pets in their home.

Some 28 per cent said knowing about the ill-effects might spur them to give up - while some 8.7 per cent said they would also try to get a partner to give up.

Some 3,300 people took part in the survey, conducted by Dr Sharon Milberger, of the Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Michigan, USA, and reported in the journal Tobacco Control.

Meanwhile a British study reported today suggests that the families of smokers continue to be at risk from so-called "passive smoking".

A study conducted in London aimed to measure exposure to nicotine among middle-aged men who do not smoke by measuring a substance called cotinine in the blood.

The men had been measured 20 years earlier and the study found the number of those at risk from high nicotine levels had fallen.

Researchers said half the men showing signs of exposure to nicotine had partners who smoked. And the average level of nictoine among men who had a partner who smoked was almost twice the level needed to increase the risk of heart attack.

Researcher Dr Barbara Jefferis, from University College London, said: "The decline in smoking together with restrictions on smoking in public places has created an environment where people are exposed to far less tobacco smoke. This has resulted in the dramatic fall in the number of non-smokers at an increased risk of a heart attack.

"However, we can clearly see that living with someone who smokes puts you at a heightened risk."

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "We cannot stop people smoking in their own home, but we would urge smokers to think of the risk they’re exposing their non smoking friends and relatives to when they have a cigarette in the house."

Meanwhile a further study, reported in the journal Occupational and Environmental Health, says the health of bar workers has improved "significantly" since a smoking ban was introduced in Scotland.

The study, by Birmingham University, UK, found a reduction in breathing problems and in runny nose, red eyes and sore throat.

Tobacco Control 2009; doi 10.1136/tc.2008.028282, Addiction 2009; 104: 496-503, Occup Environ Med 2009: doi 10.1136/oem.2008.040311

Tags: General Health | Heart Health | North America | UK News

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