Smoking bans: smoker's blight, cardiologist's bliss. [Credit: Saudi..., flickr.com]
Not only do workplace smoking bans result in fewer cases of lung cancer and emphysema, they cause local heart attack rates to drop by more than one-third. A new study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found that community heart attack rates fall 15 percent the first year of a ban, with a 36 percent decrease after three years.
This is good news for the U.S. Nearly half of the 50 states have passed smoking ban legislation, and new smoke-free laws are up for discussion in state legislatures and city halls across the country (such as the outdoor smoking ban recently proposed in New York City). Heart disease is a huge public health issue, and to see it so dramatically affected by a relatively simple policy change is—well, heartening.
Some see even broader potential in these new findings. The anti-smoking organization Action on Smoking and Health, suggests that enacting more smoking bans would fund health care better than many existing proposals. They calculate that the decrease in heart attack admissions alone would save the healthcare system $3 billion a year.
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