Cats and dogs benefit as smokers give up during Covid-19 pandemic

In England, UK, more smokers than ever are giving up. Covid-19 has given them the time and the motivation to re-evaluate their habit. This benefits cats and dogs in the household as it is a fact that cats and dogs can suffer from passive smoking. A UCL Smoking Toolkit Study found that 643,000 smokers in England quit in the 12 months to August compared to 307,000 throughout 2019. If the trend continues it will be the biggest drop since 2008-2009. Apparently nearly one in four people trying to stop smoking achieve their objective. An app, the Zoe Covid symptom tracker, revealed that cigarette smokers were twice as likely to end up in hospital with Covid-19 compared to non-smokers based on more than 2.4 million UK participants.

Cigarette smoke damages pets. Thankfully Coivid-19 has forced smokers to re-evaluate their habit. Photo in public domain.

Hazel Cheeseman, the director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) believes that the coronavirus pandemic is driving down the number of smokers because of their awareness of the fact that smoking causes lung disease and those with lung disease are more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. She regards the data as “phenomenal”.

In addition, the lengthy lockdown has given smokers time to reflect on the impact that their habit has on their health. The lockdown also has disrupted their lives which has eliminated the usual triggers to have a fag. It seems that picking up a cigarette and lighting up can be triggered by certain events and routines in smokers’ lives.

In a post I wrote in October 2019, I referred to a study by the insurer MORE TH>N in which it was found that 68% of smokers say that they would stop smoking if it became apparent that their cat was ill because of their habit. And, 78% of smokers know that their habit could harm their cat companion. The study also found that one-fifth of smokers said that their cat or dog had eaten cigarettes or cigarette-related items in the past.

In an article I wrote in March 2015, I related the story of a dog who had contracted cancer through passive smoking. The couple who owned a dog both had a 30-a-day cigarette habit. The dog contracted terminal lung cancer. Mrs Heather Gothard, 61, had been smoking for 40 years. She was very ill because of her smoking habit. Her husband had smoked for 45 years. They were both very upset when their eight-year-old dog, Clover, collapse when going for a walk. Clover had been their companion since she was a puppy. She was put down soon afterwards. X-rays found that passive smoking had caused her death. Her death prompted them to quit smoking which they managed to achieve through using nicotine patches.

Comment: in 2017-18 smoking was the underlying cause of over 77,000 deaths and almost half a million hospital admissions in the UK. The government didn’t ban smoking because of that dire statistic but they have heavily restricted the freedoms of UK citizens because of Covid-19. I am one of those people who believes that the government should allow UK citizens to make their own judgements about isolating and avoiding contracting the disease rather than imposing heavy-handed restrictions which is damaging the economy. Death by Covid-19 almost exclusively occurs in the over 80s and is ranked number 24 in the list of causes of death in the UK. Another reason why it could be argued that the government’s policy is not only disjointed and difficult to follow but to heavy-handed. I favour the Swedish model which is a better balance between damage to the economy and protecting lives.

It is welcoming news that something so disturbing as the coronavirus pandemic has a silver lining. In fact, there have been several silver linings one of which was the temporary improvement in air quality and the steep reduction in environmental noise. I remember the early days of the first lockdown as good times. The sun was shining, the weather was warm and I spent many hours walking in my local park with a good friend. We had woken up to a new world, a better world but unfortunately it couldn’t last because the economy was being trashed. The world needs economic growth constantly which improves our lifestyle on the one hand and damages it on the other.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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