Less Smoke, Less Death

Smoke free legislation linked to fewer hospitalizations and deaths from multiple conditions

(RxWiki News) Lighting up in a restaurant or a bar affects more than your own lungs. The secondhand smoke is inhaled by those around you as well — unless you live in an area with smoke-free legislation.

A recent study found areas with smoke-free laws have lower hospital admissions. They also have fewer deaths from heart problems, lung diseases or stroke.

"Avoid secondhand smoke."

The study, led by Crystal E. Tan, MS, from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California in San Francisco, analyzed the research literature related to possible links between smoke-free legislation and hospital admissions or deaths from cardiac or respiratory diseases or stroke.

The researchers searched for all studies published before November 30, 2011 that related to changes in hospital admissions or death rates following the passage of a smoke-free law as well as details about those laws.

They included in their analysis a total of 45 studies that involved 33 smoke-free laws. The average follow-up time in the studies was two years.

They found people living in areas with smoke-free legislation had a 15 percent lower risk of being admitted to the hospital or dying from a heart attack.

People living in smoke-free communities were also 39 percent less likely to experience a hospitalization or death related to other heart disease conditions.

The risk for people dying or being admitted to the hospital for respiratory disease was 24 percent lower in areas with smoke-free legislation compared to areas without smoke-free legislation. These diseases included asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Finally, the likelihood of someone having a stroke was 16 percent lower in areas with smoke-free legislation.

These percentages were all averages taken from the studies as a whole. The researchers note the risks are decreased even further with more comprehensive laws.

Therefore, the more comprehensive the law is, the lower the risk is from dying or being admitted to the hospital for these conditions studied.

The more comprehensive laws included no-smoking requirements in work places, restaurants and bars.

"Stronger legislation means immediate reductions in secondhand smoke-related health problems as a byproduct of reductions in secondhand smoke exposure and increases in smoking cessation that accompany these laws," said senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD, also from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, in a release about the study.

"Passage of these laws formalizes and accelerates social change and the associated immediate health benefits," he said.

The study was published October 29 in the journal Circulation. The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 27, 2012