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Apr 04, 2014

Indoor Smoking Ban Saves Lives

Michigan’s new smoke-free air laws helped reduce hospitalizations from heart disease, finds study.

Statewide smoking bans help save lives, according to a new study on the impact of Michigan’s smoke-free air laws passed in 2010.

Presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session, this study compared the number of heart attackstroke and heart failure cases in Michigan a year before and after the smoking ban was passed. Michigan’s new laws prohibit smoking in all indoor areas to help protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, which causes close to 50,000 deaths per year in the United States. In 2010, Michigan became the 38th state to enact a smoke-free indoor air law, which bans smoking in all worksites, including bars and restaurants.

After reviewing data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, researchers found that hospitalizations related to heart disease decreased by more than 2% between 2009 and 2011. This translated to nearly 1,400 fewer hospitalizations after Michigan passed indoor smoking bans in 2010. Researchers also found a significant decrease in in-hospital deaths from 2009 to 2011 in Michigan.

These findings add to a wealth of evidence suggesting that smoke-free air laws help protect the heart. In 2011, a study found that Arizona’s indoor smoking bans decreased hospital admissions for heart attacks, chest pain, stroke and even asthma. Since the benefits of eliminating secondhand smoke are well-known, experts now hope to investigate whether smoke-free air laws help lower health care costs.

“There is no nationwide federal policy banning indoor smoking, even though such a policy might improve public health and potentially reduce health care costs,” said Sourabh Aggarwal, MD, the lead investigator of the study. Although further research is needed to understand the impact of smoking bans on health care costs, it’s possible that smoke-free air laws could be a win-win, helping save both lives and money.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Why does smoking increase risk for heart disease?

  • Smoking causes plaque build up in the arteries, which reduces the flow of blood to the heart and body, increasing blood pressure. Over time, this can put an extreme strain on the heart and other parts of the body.
  • Is there a "safe" level of exposure to secondhand smoke?
  • No, there is no known safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing in any amount of secondhand smoke can be dangerous, which is why many states have passed laws that prohibit smoking in public places, such as workplaces, restaurants and bars.

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