Joe Camel isn’t the only animal who smokes. Monkeys, mice, rats, dogs, and other animals are forced to inhale nicotine and other toxic substances in cruel laboratory experiments funded by big tobacco companies and government agencies. In honor of the 37th annual Great American Smokeout, which takes place on November 15, peta2—PETA‘s youth division—is asking both smokers and nonsmokers to sign its petition asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban tobacco tests on animals.
Among other experiments, experimenters have laced animals’ food with tobacco to analyze the harmful effects of ingesting smokeless tobacco, cut live dogs’ chests open to see how cigarette smoke causes airway irritation, and stuffed rats into tiny canisters and forced smoke into their noses before killing and dissecting them in order to study the effects of adding flavoring ingredients to cigarettes.
Experimenters with the University of California–Davis locked pregnant rhesus monkeys into chambers and exposed them to smoke six hours a day, five days a week, during the last two months of the monkeys’ pregnancies. The experimenters continued to pump cigarette smoke into the enclosures for two months after the babies were born, and then they killed and dissected the babies so that they could see how the smoke had affected their arteries.
We already know from clinical research—and from basic common sense—that nicotine is bad for human health. Even if there were still some question, we wouldn’t find the answer by experimenting on animals. Different animals have different reactions to toxins, and animals in laboratories aren’t exposed to nicotine in the same manner, or time frame, as humans.
Non-animal testing methods are readily available and are more relevant to humans—all the tobacco product tests required in Canada are non-animal tests. Tobacco experiments on animals aren’t required by U.S. law—American Spirit cigarettes are not tested on animals—and tobacco tests on animals are banned in Belgium, Germany, and the U.K.
The next time you’re “dying for a cigarette,” please remember that animals are dying, too, and reconsider your decision to smoke. If you don’t smoke—or don’t intend to quit smoking—you can still help animals by signing the petition and telling others about peta2’s “Animals Don’t Smoke” campaign.