February 17, 2009 05:54 PM

Smokers know the dangerous effects of their habits on their own health, but what they may not know is that their smoking can hurt their furry friends, as well. According to Health.com, studies have linked smoke exposure to oral cancer and lymphoma in cats and nasal and lung cancer in dogs. Consequently, a new survey published in the journal Tobacco Control says one in three pet owners – of a group of 3,300 Michigan residents questioned – would consider quitting smoking for their pet.

“People are motivated to help their pets,” New York City veterinarian George Korin tells Health.com. “At the least, they will do their very best to arrive at a diagnosis, even it involves fairly expensive procedures such as MRIs and CT scans.” In fact, Americans spent an estimated $10.5 billion on pets in 2008 alone.

The study does have its pros and cons. On one hand, knowing a smoking pet owner is feeling guilt over the health of his or her pet could be good ammunition for a doctor to help a patient kick the habit. But on the other hand, the 28.4 percent of respondents who said they would consider quitting smoking for their pet wouldn’t necessarily follow through on that promise. Currently, researchers are conducting a follow-up study that tracks pet owners who smoke to see if concern for their pet’s health changes their habits.

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