Heart Attacks Down Following Countywide Smoking Ban
These are the findings of a study published in the present issue of the Journal of Drug Education by researchers at Indiana University (IU), based in the state capital, Bloomington.
Study lead author, Dr Dong-Chul Seo, assistant professor of Applied Health Science at IU said that the study gave:
"Really solid evidence of the benefit of the public smoking ban, and hopefully this will provide a basis for adopting a public smoking ban in many municipalities and states."
The researchers compared the situation in Monroe County, where a countywide smoking ban was introduced in 2003 prohibiting smoking at work and in indoor public places, with the situation in Delaware County, which has a similar deomographic profile but where no such ban existed at the time of the study.
They examined hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) among non smokers with no previous risk factors for cardiac disease in the two counties for 22 months before the ban was introduced in Monroe County and for 22 months afterwards.
The results showed a significant drop in the number of admissions among non smokers in Monroe County after the ban was brought in, but this was not reflected in the figures for Delaware County. The number of heart attacks among non smokers in Monroe County dropped from 17 in the 22 months leading up to the ban to 5 in the 22 months afterwards; a drop of 70 per cent. In Delaware County there was an 11 per cent drop, from 18 to 16, in the same two periods.
There were no significant changes in the admissions for smokers with AMI before and after the ban.
The authors said they were aware that a main drawback of the study is the small numbers and the fact it was a retrospective study, but nevertheless, lead author Seo said he thought the results were significant and the findings strong enough to be conclusive that the ban had had an effect.
However, some critics said there could be other factors responsible for the difference in the figures.
The researchers' views do coincide with findings from other studies however, where sudden drops occurred in heart attack rates following cigarrette bans.
Dr Stephen Jay, professor of medicine and public health at the IU School of Medicine said that any exposure to smoke, active or passive, is "capable of killing you".
A statement from the IU press release suggested that:
"Exposure to second-hand smoke for just 30 minutes can rapidly increase a person's risk for heart attack, even if they have no risk factors. The smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood."
The study was supported by the American Institutes for Research and Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation.
"Reduced Admissions for Acute Myocardial Infarction Associated with a Public Smoking Ban: Matched Controlled Study."
Dong-Chul Seo, and Mohammad R. Torabi.
Journal of Drug EducationVolume 37, Number 3, 2007, 217 - 226.
Click here for Abstract.
Click here for IU's comprehensive summary of the research.
Click here for pamphlet about Monroe County's smoking ban.
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