New Incentive to Quit Smoking

New research suggests that pets provide extra motivation to quit smoking

To Your Health

New Incentive to Quit Smoking

When your own motivation fails, it may be time to call in the dogs…

-Susan Crandell

Dog with cigarettesMaybe there’s a method in Obama‘s madness. We all know he’s had a terrible time giving up cigarettes. Now, new research suggests that Bo may prevail where others have failed.

Pets are just the latest incentive to quit smoking. In a study conducted at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan and published in February in the British Medical Journal of Tobacco Control, scientists discovered that saving Fido may be a better motivation than saving yourself. 

Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 pet owners, informing them that their cigarette habit puts their pets at risk (exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked to allergies, respiratory problems, eye and skin diseases and cancer in household pets). Of the group surveyed, forty percent of smokers expressed interest in information on how to quit, 28 percent said they would try to quit, and 19 percent said they wouldn’t allow smoking in their home. And don’t worry, Garfield, you’re not getting dissed: Cats count too.

Despite the soaring price of cigarettes (the federal excise tax is up from 39 cents on a pack to $1.01) and the overwhelming evidence of harm (443,000 premature deaths annually; $193 billion in health-care expenses and lost work time), one in five Americans still lights up regularly, according to the American Cancer Society. If you know you need to quit but are short on funds these days for pricey options like a nicotine patch, the CDC will give you a leg up. Call 800-QUIT-NOW and they’ll connect you to a coach in your area for a personal smoking cessation plan and strategies for dealing with cravings. In many cases, they can also tell you about a local support group.

When your resolve wavers, put a Post-It on your computer screen that reads “cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths.” That’s data from the American Cancer Society; for more information and stop-smoking help, visit the web site or call 800-ACS-2345.

Better yet, consider adding the new incentive to quit smoking–get a dog; or if there’s already a “Bo” in your house, think of what he’d say about your habit if he could.

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