Most people would expect that second-hand smoke harms pets, but this isn’t the only way that smoking and the tobacco industry harms animals.
It’s widely-known that smoking causes a multitude of health conditions in first-hand users and also poses a risk to those exposed second-hand. However, not as many people are aware of the various ways smoking harms animals. You may expect that second hand smoke is harmful to animals, just like it is to humans, but there is more to the harm caused to animals by smoking and the tobacco industry than these effects. In fact, the tobacco industry’s sordid history of conducting uninformative studies on animals is yet another way smoking is harming animals across the planet.
Second Hand Smoke and Pets
Given the widespread knowledge of the dangers of second-hand smoke, it won’t surprise many readers to learn that second hand smoke is harmful to animals too. For example, studies show that cats exposed to second-hand smoke are three times more likely to develop lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The fact that cats groom themselves a lot also means those exposed to smoke – which can settle and accumulate in the fur – are more likely to get oral cancer. Cats can also get chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is one of the main conditions that affect human smokers.
The link between damage from second hand smoke and pets isn’t confined to cats. Dogs with long noses who are exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to get nasal cancer, and those with shorter noses are more likely to get lung cancer. Second-hand smoke is also one of the most common causes of bronchitis in dogs.
The unavoidable conclusion is that second hand smoke harms pets, and it’s yet another reason quitting smoking or at least confining your smoking to outside is the best way to protect the people and animals you love.
Tobacco Companies Testing on Animals
Second hand smoke is only one of the ways smoking harms animals. As PETA reports, despite the widespread knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking and the abundant scientific evidence of this harm, experiments continue to be performed on animals. These tests have no clear purpose other than to further product development for tobacco companies, and all will certainly cause suffering to the animals.
One example is an experiment involving pumping tobacco smoke – with differing mixes of flavorings – directly into the noses of thousands of rats for 90 days, six hours per day. The rats were then killed and cut open to determine the extent of the damage. Another example involved covering the skin of rats and mice with cigarette tar and forcing them to breathe smoke, in many cases leading to skin cancer or even the skin peeling off the affected animals.
Can Animal Testing Demonstrate the Risks of Tobacco?
With our extensive knowledge of the damage done by tobacco, it’s hard to defend conducting such experiments today, but what about in the past? Was testing the effects of smoking on animals useful in determining the risks of smoking?
Sadly, the answer is that it wasn’t. The problem is that animal testing is very limited as a form of evidence when it comes to finding out health risks to humans. In the simplest terms, the problem is that animals are often so different from humans that the results just don’t apply.
The best example of this comes from research on tobacco smoking and lung cancer. We know for a fact that smoking causes lung cancer in humans, but when the tobacco industry was trying to cast doubt on the growing evidence of the risks of smoking, they emphasized the results of animal tests. Time after time, it was shown that forcing animals to inhale smoke didn’t lead to lung cancer. This conclusion obviously doesn’t carry over to humans, so animals suffered as part of these experiments for no reason.
Smoking harms animals as part of continued testing, but this example shows that the results aren’t even likely to be applicable.
How to Protect Animals From Smoke
Protecting animals from the harms of tobacco smoke starts in the home, but doesn’t end there. The first and most important thing you can do is to stop smoking. Not only will this protect your own health, it will keep your pets safe from the effects of second-hand smoke. Using approved stop-smoking treatments like Zyban, Chantix and nicotine replacement therapies, or other nicotine-containing products like smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, can help you stop smoking.
If enough people successfully quit smoking, this will have a knock-on effect on the other way smoking harms animals. If nobody buys tobacco companies’ products, they won’t have enough money to invest in product development and animal testing. Combined with legislative pressure and the efforts of animal rights groups, reducing the demand for tobacco will also reduce the incentive for tobacco companies to conduct unnecessary tests on rats, mice and other animals.