Smoking bans 'cut heart attacks'
Bans on smoking in public places including workplaces have had a bigger impact on preventing heart attacks than expected, a study has shown. Smoking bans cut the number of heart attacks in Europe and North America by up to a third, according to the study, which included evidence from smoking bans in Scotland and Ireland. This 'heart gain' is far greater than both originally anticipated and the 10 per cent figure recently quoted by England's Department of Health. Dr James Lightwood, of the University of California at San Francisco, led the Circulation study that pooled together 13 separate analyses. His team found that heart attack rates across Europe and North America started to drop immediately following implementation of anti-smoking laws, reaching 17 per cent after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with a 36 per cent drop three years after enacting the restrictions. Dr Lightwood said: 'While we obviously won't bring heart attack rates to zero, these findings give us evidence that in the short-to-medium-term, smoking bans will prevent a lot of heart attacks.' The report notes: 'Passage of strong smokefree legislation produces rapid and substantial benefits in terms of reduced acute myocardial infarctions, and these benefits grow with time.' A number of the studies considered the impact of smoking bans on the health of bar and restaurant workers.
J Lightwood and S Glantz. Declines in acute myocardial infarction following smokefree laws and individual risk attributable to secondhand smoke, Circulation. Published online 21 September 2009.
Issued: 25 September, 2009