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Smoking is going to the dogs - cigarettes and your pets


  • Exclusive survey (1) reveals that 67% of frequent smokers have pets, and almost a third (32%) don’t believe or don’t know that smoking influences their pet’s health

  • Scientists (3) found cats and dogs are at greater risk from passive or secondhand smoking than humans – with almost 85% (4) of tobacco smoke being invisible, allowing toxic particles to build up on surfaces and clothes

  • Cats (3) are particularly at risk because their regular self-grooming exposes them to toxins left on fur

  • Even pet fish are at risk due to airborne toxins (6) effectively poisoning their water

  • Around 7.4 million people in the UK still smoke cigarettes (2) and Quit Cigarettes is the first mission from Change Incorporated, an editorially-independent, purpose-driven online channel from VICE that will work with global businesses to tackle some of society’s biggest issues. This first mission is funded by Philip Morris International.

London, UK, June 5th, 2019

Change Incorporated’s mission to help the UK quit cigarettes has highlighted that over two thirds (67%) of UK smokers (1) have pets and almost a third (32%) of them don’t believe or don’t know that their habit could be having a devastating effect on their animal’s health. 

According to studies, pets that live with smokers can develop a range of health problems, from cancers to breathing difficulties, skin infections and eye problems. Researchers at Glasgow University (3) found that pets who inhale their owners’ secondhand and thirdhand smoke develop a host of health problems just like humans who inhale someone else’s smoke. 

In fact pets could be at greater risk of health problems because they are more likely to inhale third-hand smoke particles from many different surfaces in the home.

Around 7.4 million people in the UK still smoke cigarettes (2), but this lack of knowledge could be causing harm to and slowly killing their beloved animals. An exclusive survey from Change Incorporated found that 70% of UK smokers (1) agreed that vets or breeders should provide more information about the dangers of smoking on pets. 

For the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA)’s campaign urging smokers to stop lighting up around their pets, Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan commented (7),

Our vets and nurses regularly see the devastating impact smoking can have on pets. Many owners are unaware of the risks that smoking can have on pets' health. If they knew, I'm sure they would want to protect them.

All pets are at risk of passive smoke when they are in the same room as smokers, but they are also vulnerable to its effects when the smoker is absent. Almost 85% of tobacco smoke (4) is invisible and toxic particles from smoke can build up on surfaces and clothes, so while smoking outdoors or having good ventilation can help reduce the amount of smoke that pets are exposed to, potentially carcinogenic particles are still likely to remain on a smoker’s clothes, furniture and soft furnishings (5). Cats are particularly at risk because their regular self-grooming exposes them to smoke toxins left on their fur.  

In the research published by Glasgow University (3) Professor Clare Knotterbelt commented,

Pets are often in close proximity to their owners more so than many children who can be away at school all day and more so than other adults in the house. Furthermore, as pets self-groom they will ingest the smoke particles from their fur – this is a big problem for cats as they are very fastidious and thorough about their self-grooming.”


Even fish have been found to be affected by passive smoking, as the poisons present in tobacco smoke are highly water-soluble. When substances from cigarettes like airborne nicotine, carbon monoxide, arsenic and hydrogen cyanide come into contact with the surface of your pet goldfish’s aquarium, some of them dissolve – and effectively poison – the water (6).  It only takes a very small amount of poison to cause serious harm to something as small as a fish.

Films and articles at explore the science and sociological aspects of smoking to encourage debate and provide support for people wanting to quit the habit.  The new channel includes articles such as Your Pet Hates Your Smoking, What Does Passive Smoking Do To Smaller Animals and even First Aid For Pets Of Smokers.  

As Professor Knottenbelt from Glasgow University commented,

We are all aware of the risks to our health and it is important we do everything we can to encourage people to stop smoking. As well as the risk to the smoker, there is the danger of secondhand smoke to others. Pet owners often do not think about the impact that smoking could have on their pets. While you can reduce the amount of smoke your pet is exposed to by smoking outdoors and by reducing the number of tobacco products smoked by the members of the household, stopping smoking completely is the best option for your pet’s future health and wellbeing.”

For more news and stories on cigarettes and pets please see the homepage on Change Incorporated here:

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Change Incorporated Press Office
Russell Minahan or Dan Turner
Tel: +44 (0) 7557 438576

About Change Incorporated

Change Incorporated is a new editorially independent channel from global media brand VICE that aims to create measurable change on issues important to VICE’s global audience. The purpose-driven channel will have editorial control and independence and will take funding from a small number of businesses to undertake different ‘missions’. The funding is primarily to support the best journalism and most compelling content on the Internet.

About Quit Cigarettes mission

Quit Cigarettes mission will initially launch in the UK and will have one single measure of success; the number of people that seriously attempt to stop smoking cigarettes, which will be audited by an independent third party. The funder for the mission is Philip Morris International and all activity will be consistent with the UK Government’s Tobacco Control Plan. Quit Cigarettes is an initiative created by Change Incorporated (VICE) and funded by Philip Morris International. VICE maintains editorial control, so Philip Morris International may not share the views expressed.

About VICE Media

VICE is a global media brand. Launched in 1994, VICE now operates in nearly 40 territories worldwide across mobile, digital, and linear platforms. VICE operates an expanding international network of digital channels; a television and feature film production studio; an Emmy-winning international television network, VICELAND; an Emmy-winning weekly news magazine show on HBO; an Emmy-winning nightly news series on HBO; Virtue, a global, full-service creative agency with 26 offices around the world; a magazine; and a record label.

VICE's award-winning programming has been recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Peabody Awards, Sundance Film Festival, PEN Center, Cannes Lions, Frontline Club, Knight Foundation, American Society of Magazine Editors, LA Press Club, James Beard awards and Webby Awards, among others.


1   Source: Exclusive survey conducted by Savanta, 2,021 UK residents aged 18+, April 2019

2 Source: NHS Digital (

3. Source: Glasgow University (

4. Source: Tobacco Control  (

5. Source:  Third Hand Smoking (

6. Source: Water soluble (

7. Source: PDSA (