“Smoke-free laws” in 33 areas led to a 15 percent reduction in hospitalisations for heart attack and a 16 percent reduction in hospitalisations for strokes, the researchers from the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California found. Smoking bans also cut hospitalisations for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases by 24 percent.

“Smoke-free laws have dramatic and immediate impacts on health and the associated medical costs,” said lead researcher Stanton Glantz, director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

In order to measure the effectiveness of smoking bans, Glantz and study co-author Crystal Tan reviewed 45 studies that looked at smoke-free laws in the United States, Uruguay, New Zealand and Germany among others.

The largest decreases in hospitalisations for diseases related to smoking were seen in areas with the most restrictive policies – for instance, those that ban smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars.

“More comprehensive laws have bigger effects,” Glantz said. “Less comprehensive laws were associated with more hospitalisations.”

The study indicates that exceptions in indoor air laws send more people to the emergency room and lead to unnecessary and substantial medical costs for the patients, their employers and taxpayers, he said.

In a HealthDay News report, Danny McGoldrick, research director at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said “this study adds to the evidence, including a review by the Institute of Medicine, that smoke-free laws save lives by preventing heart attacks, strokes and other serious diseases.”

The bottom line, McGoldrick said, is that smoking should be banned in all public areas without exception.

“No one should have to put themselves at risk of a heart attack, lung cancer or other diseases caused by secondhand smoke in order to earn a paycheque or enjoy a night out,” he said.

Source: HealthDay News

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