Public smoking bans may cut heart attacks


Reduced incidence of admissions for myocardial infarction associated with public smoking ban: before and after study BMJ Online First Publication

Smoke-free laws may be linked with a rapid fall in the number of heart attacks, according to new research available on on Monday 5 April 2004.

Previous studies have shown that people living or working in an environment polluted with secondhand smoke have a 30% increased risk of heart attack.

The study took place in Helena, a small community in the United States that imposed a law banning smoking in public and in workplaces from June to November 2002. The law was overturned by opponents in December 2002.

The number of monthly admissions to the local hospital for heart attack for people living in and outside Helena were recorded for the same six months of each year from 1998 to 2003.

During the six months that the law was in effect, the number of admissions fell by about 40% among people living in Helena, from an average of 40 during the same months in the years before and after the law, to a total of 24 during the ban. There was no significant drop in admissions for people living outside Helena.

This is the first study to report such an association and, like any initial report, further research is desirable to confirm the finding, say the authors.

However, the fact that admission rates fell in the area where the law was implemented but not outside the area suggests that smoke-free laws not only protect people from the long term dangers of secondhand smoke, but that they may also be associated with a rapid decrease in heart attacks.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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