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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Friday, October 19, 2007

Smokers Are Killing Their Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Infants by Continuing to Light Up in Their Presence

"The results of our study clearly indicate that exposure to environmental factors such as secondhand tobacco smoke has devastating consequences for cats because it significantly increases the likelihood of contracting lymphoma."
-- Antony S. Moore of Tufts

The evidence continues to accumulate that many selfish and uncaring individuals are deliberately killing their cats, dogs, birds, and infants by insisting upon smoking in their presence. Furthermore, smokers appear to be using restrictions on smoking in public as an excuse to light up more often at home.

A study conducted on one-hundred-eighty cats treated at Tufts Veterinary School between 1993 and 2000 found that those living in homes with smokers were twice as likely to contract feline lymphoma as opposed to those residing in non-smoking environments. The more smokers in the home, the greater the volume of cigarettes consumed, and the longer that cats are exposed to environmental smoke all combine to dramatically increase their chances of dying from cancer.

The study, "Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Risk of Malignant Lymphoma in Cats," was conducted by Antony S. Moore and Laura N. Snyder of Tufts with the assistance of Elizabeth R. Bertone of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and was published in volume 156 of the American Journal of Epidemiology on August 1, 2002.

The study also refuted the long-held belief that feline lymphoma is caused by the feline leukemia virus (FeLV). "The results of our study clearly indicate that exposure to environmental factors such as secondhand tobacco smoke has devastating consequences for cats because it significantly increases the likelihood of contracting lymphoma," Moore is quoted as saying in the July 30, 2002 edition of Science Daily. (See "New Study Shows Passive Cigarette Smoke at Least Doubles Risk of Cancer in Cats.")

Feline lymphoma, the most common form of cancer in cats, attacks the lymph nodes and intestinal tracts of felines that are usually around ten years of age. The disease is treated with chemotherapy and radiation for a period of approximately six months and at a cost of between $2,000 and $3,000.

With treatment, only sixty-five per cent of those afflicted go into remission and only twenty-five per cent survive for longer than two years. With such a dismal prognosis it is doubtful that many cat owners are willing to pony up the exorbitant fees demanded by veterinarians.

Dr. Carolynn MacAllister of Oklahoma State University points out in an August 31st article posted on the school's web site that passive smoking also has been linked to squamous cell carcinomas (oral cancer) in cats. (See "Secondhand Smoke Is a Health Threat to Pets.")

Meanwhile, veterinarian Louise Langlais reports having treated cats with asthma and irreversible lung damage caused by passive smoking. (See The Waterloo Record of Ontario, October 9, 2007, "Evidence Shows Secondhand Smoke Can Harm Pets.")

One reason that cats are so susceptible to the dangers of cigarette smoke is that they have such small lungs. An even more telling reason relates to the huge amount of carcinogens that settle in their fur and are therefore ingested when they groom themselves. In particular, their grooming habits expose the mucous membranes in their mouths to cancer-causing carcinogens.

As it would be expected, cats imprisoned indoors are at a significantly higher risk of developing cancers caused by secondhand smoking than are outdoor cats. This is in addition to being prime candidates for obesity, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. (See Cat Defender post of August 22, 2007 entitled "Indoor Cats Are Dying from Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Various Toxins in the Home.")

Research has also shown that secondhand smoke causes nasal and lung cancer as well as myocardial infarctions in "man's best friend." For instance, a 1992 study conducted by John S. Reif, Kari Dunn, George K. Ogilvie, and Cheryl K. Harris of Colorado State University and published in volume 135 of the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dogs subjected to secondhand smoke have a sixty per cent greater risk of developing lung cancer than those who live in smoke-free environments. (See "Passive Smoking and Canine Lung Cancer.")

To be more specific, this study of one-hundred-thirty-four dogs concluded that the incidence of lung cancer was even higher for canines with short and medium-sized noses (pugs, poodles, etc.). This is because their short nasal passages fail to intercept most carcinogens before they reach their lungs.

The news is every bit just as alarming for long-nosed dogs, such as collies and wolfhounds, who develop nasal cancers as opposed to lung malignancies whenever they are exposed to secondhand smoke. That was the conclusion of a study conducted on four-hundred-eighty-one dogs by Reif, Christa Bruns, and Kimberty S. Lower and published in volume 147 of the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1998. (See "Cancer of the Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses and Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Pet Dogs.")

Although she does not cite any specific studies in order to back up her allegations, MacAllister nonetheless does note in passing that secondhand smoke causes pneumonia and lung cancer in pet birds kept in the home. Because their diminutive organs soak up a disproportionate amount of secondhand smoke they are prone to eye, skin, heart, and fertility problems.

Dogs and birds also have been known to die from nicotine poisoning. Jill Richardson, a veterinarian with the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, cites excitation, salivation, panting, vomiting, and diarrhea as the early warning signs that a pet has swallowed tobacco. The signs of advanced nicotine poisoning include muscle weakness, twitching, depression, collapse, coma, a racing heart, and cardiac arrest.

Back in 2002, Bertone said, "We believe that feline exposure patterns to environmental tobacco smoke may mimic those of young children living in households where adults smoke and where the children inhale tobacco smoke or ingest particulate matter by mouthing contaminated objects." Recent research conducted by Bristol University has substantiated her fears.

Writing in the journal Early Human Development, the researchers state that an astounding eighty-six per cent of all victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy. Furthermore, the risk of dying from SIDS continues to increase if mothers keep on smoking in the presence of their newborns.

"The risk of death increased with each individual hour the baby was exposed to smoke," lead author Peter Fleming told the BBC on October 15th. (See " 'Clear Smoking Link' to Cot Death.") "For example, a baby exposed to smoke eight hours a day was eight times more likely to die from SIDS than a baby that was never exposed. These are startling statistics."

Not only does passive smoking kill companion animals and infants, but it also kills adults. It is difficult to gauge and the statistics keep changing but perhaps as many as fifty-thousand American adults die each year from heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory ailments, and breast cancer caused by secondhand smoke.

In California, it is estimated that 5,500 individuals die each year of heart disease brought on by secondhand smoke. That is in addition to 1,100 people who annually succumb to lung cancer that is caused by environmental smoke. (See Reuters, January 27, 2006, "California Classifies Secondhand Smoke a Toxic Risk.")

Despite the existence of a multitude of laws that restrict smoking in public, they are seldom enforced. For instance, individuals continue to smoke with impunity on train platforms, on the loading docks at bus stations, inside casinos, bars, and restaurants, and even outside the entrances to public buildings. Consequently, people using these facilities are not only forced to inhale carcinogens but the pollutants settle into their clothing and hair as well.

Health care expenses for individuals suffering from smoking-related diseases run into the tens of billions of dollars each year in the United States. While it is true that these costs are offset somewhat by taxes levied on tobacco products and the jobs generated by the industry, there can be no denying that tobacco is a major killer of both humans and animals.

Moreover, it is hypocritical for governments to fatten their tax coffers off of the vices of their citizens whether it be from tobacco, rotgut booze, gambling, prostitution, or the sale of unhealthy foods. Corrupting the masses, however, is an old game.

American colonialists used alcohol in order to weaken and subdue Native Americans just as the English plied the Chinese with opium and white South Africans ruined the health of their black vineyard workers by insisting upon paying them in wine as opposed to cash. In more recent times, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, radio stations, television networks, and the universities have championed drug and alcohol abuse as well as sexual irresponsibility in addition to smoking.

The dangers inherent in tobacco smoking are not anything new. As early as the 1930s the Germans were placing restrictions on smoking in the workplace and elsewhere. (See Robert N. Proctor's 2000 book entitled "The Nazi War on Cancer.") Furthermore, even before the Surgeon General released his damning report on smoking in 1964 many of the health hazards associated with this disgustingly filthy habit were already well known.

Most prominently, smokers are prone to shortness of breath and coughing spasms. Smoking also stains the fingers and yellows the teeth. Careless smoking additionally sometimes leads to house and auto fires as well as ruined sofas and tables.

Of course, tobacco manufacturers have long suppressed research relating to the hazards of secondhand smoke just as they previously denied that smokers were killing themselves.. (See Environmental News Network, October 16, 2007, "Study: Big Tobacco's War on Linking Secondhand Smoke and Heart Disease.")

"Our findings offer another reason for smokers living with pets and children to try to 'kick the habit'," Bertone told Science Daily in the article cited supra. "Quitting smoking will not only reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, but may reduce the risk of cancer in their children and pets as well."

Unfortunately, many smokers do not care about either their own health or that of their pets and children. This observation is supported by interviews that The New York Times conducted on December 9, 2003 with veterinarians Hugh B. Norris of San Diego and Josephine Schmidt of Paris. (See "Secondhand Smoke May Harm Family Pets, Too.")

With that being the case, the responsibility for protecting the lives of cats, dogs, birds, and infants falls by default to legislators. While banning the growing, manufacture, importation, and sale of tobacco products probably is not politically feasible, public smoking bans should be strenuously enforced.

England, for example, has outlawed smoking in all public places and in automobiles. It also has established a toll-free telephone number for citizens to report violators. This is in addition to installing 4.2 million surveillance cameras equipped with loudspeakers so as to allow police monitors to issue desist orders to smokers and other lawbreakers. (See Los Angeles Times, October 19, 2007, "In Britain, Law Has Long Arms, Eagle Eyes.")

While it would be a colossal tragedy if America were ever perverted into the type of police state that Tony Blair and his cronies have foisted upon the English public, San Francisco's prohibition on smoking in public parks and Los Angeles' ban on puffing on beaches and piers are ideas worthy of emulation.

More to the point, individuals who insist upon endangering the lives of animals and children by smoking in their presence should be prosecuted. The fact that this deadly conduct occurs in homes and automobiles is of no legal consequence. Child and animal abuse are both punishable under existing laws regardless of the venue and the same rationale should be applied to smoking.

Photos: Thomas Sienicki of Wikipedia (burning cigarette), BBC (cat), Ken Hammond of the USDA (tobacco patch), and Tobacco Facts (anti-smoking ad).