Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anti-smoke laws decrease hospitalization and deaths

Several countries have imposed smoking bans for public buildings in order to reduce a phenomenon known as second hand smoking. It means that non-smokers are no longer harmed by the smoke of others in public areas. Previous research conducted in the German city of Bremen showed that such laws sharply decreased the number of myocardial infarctions, but new analysis involving many more areas all over the world shows that it also leads to a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and deaths, further reinforcing the theory that anti-smoking laws are a quick win in terms of health benefits, and an example that other governments should follow.

The scientists, who conducted their work at the University of California in San Francisco, analyzed a total of 45 studies and combined the results. The studies incorporated data from different countries, including Uruguay, Germany, New Zealand and various states in the United States. The studies provided data on the number of hospitalizations and deaths related to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases before and after the institution of anti-smoking laws.

Health benefits
According to the researchers, imposing anti-smoking laws rapidly resulted in a decrease of 15 percent in the number of hospitalizations related to heart diseases, such as stroke. For respiratory diseases the percentage was found to be even higher, the decrease in hospitalizations reaching almost a quarter. Concurrently with the decrease in the number of hospitalizations, the number of deaths were also found to be lower after imposing anti-smoking laws.

Clear win
The scientists also showed that areas that had a more stringent anti-smoking law had the highest health benefits. Taken together, this shows that issuing smoking bans for public places is a quick win for policy makers in order to reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths, which not only benefits the public's health, but also reduces the cost of healthcare. Of course, it is not possible to prevent smokers from smoking, but that does not mean non-smokers have to be harmed due to their unhealthy behaviour.

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