Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heart attack rates drop after smoking bans, continue downward over time

Please take a look this story about a recent study on smoke-free air laws. We have known that smoke-free laws reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and that will reduce heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer over the long term. However, more and more studies are showing that communities that pass smoke-free laws are seeing an immediate and significant reduction in heart attacks after the laws go into effect.

DALLAS, Sept. 21, 2009 — One year after passing smoking bans, communities in North America and Europe had 17 percent fewer heart attacks compared to communities without smoking restrictions, and the number of heart attacks kept decreasing with time, according to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The report is a meta-analysis of 13 studies in which researchers examined changes in heart attack rates after smoking bans were enacted in communities in the United States, Canada and Europe. The researchers found that heart attack rates started to drop immediately following implementation of the law, reaching 17 percent after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with about a 36 percent drop three years after enacting the restrictions.

“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,” said James M. Lightwood, Ph.D., co-author of the study and assistant adjunct professor in the department of clinical pharmacy at the University of California–San Francisco. “The studies on this issue now have long enough follow-up periods so that we can see exactly how big the effect is.”

Lightwood also noted that the community effect is consistent with probable individual risk and exposure scenarios.

For example, according to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Update, non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work have a 25 percent to 30 percent increased risk of developing heart disease. This new research suggests that the individual increased risk may be higher, said Lightwood.

“This study adds to the already strong evidence that secondhand smoke causes heart attacks, and that passing 100 percent smoke-free laws in all workplaces and public places is something we can do to protect the public,” Lightwood said. “Now we have a better understanding of how you can predict what will happen if you impose a smoking-free law.”

David Goff, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention and Professor of Public Health Sciences and Internal Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, and an American Heart Association national spokesperson said the paper provides strong support for the contention that smoke free laws will improve public health. “This is good evidence that the benefits are realistic and consistent with reasonable estimates of the harm imposed by secondhand smoke,” Goff said.

“It is important to move forward now with widespread implementation of smoke-free laws,” he added. “At a time of great concern over the financial sustainability of our healthcare system, smoke free laws represent an inexpensive approach to reducing heart attacks, and, probably, other cardiovascular conditions.”

New study: smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks and save lives

The American Heart Association supports a new national study which found that smoking bans are effective at reducing the risk of acute cardiac events such as heart attacks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke.

“This report makes it increasingly clear that smoke-free policies are having a positive impact in reducing the heart attack rate in many communities,” said Clyde Yancy, M.D., American Heart Association President. “There’s no question that secondhand smoke has an adverse health impact in workplaces and public environments. We must continue to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws across the country to save lives and reduce the number of new smokers.”

The Institute of Medicine report, “Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence,” sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests the strength of association between secondhand smoke and acute coronary events is compelling and provides evidence showing a cause-and-effect relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and heart problems.

…full story here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Most in World Favor Smoke-Free Workplaces

That according to a new poll conducted by RTI and Harris Interactive. The study, published in the International Journal of Public Health online edition, shows 74 percent of smoking employees and 87 percent of employers felt the workplace should be smoke-free.

"Although there was widespread variation among countries, overall the results demonstrate global support for workplace smoking bans," lead author Michael Halpern, a senior fellow at RTI, says in a statement.

The survey, sponsored by Pfizer, found employees estimate they spend an average of one hour per day smoking at work, but almost 70 percent say they did not believe that it had a negative financial impact on their employer.

In Texas there are 30 cities that have smoke-free workplace laws that include all bars and restaurants. However an attempt to cover the entire state was not passed last spring. The American Heart Association is working to further educate the public and lawmakers in attempt to pass a smoke-free workplace law next session.

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