Study shows smoking ban improves health

Maryville anti-smoking advocates are applauding two new studies showing localities that ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places experience a quick drop in heart attacks.
The research, which incorporated data from 24 studies of smoking bans across the country, found at least a 17 percent reduction in heart attacks one year after the bans had been enacted.

One of the new studies is creating increased regional awareness about the health benefits of a smoke-free environment because its lead author is on the faculty of the University of Kansas.
Dr. David G. Meyers is a professor of cardiology and preventive medicine at KU, and his research will appear in the Sept. 29 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“One thing we looked at was the effect of duration,” Meyers was quoted as saying in a HealthDay News press release. “The longer the study, the greater the beneficial effect. On average, after one year there was a 25 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack. The risk reduction got bigger the longer the ban was in effect.”

Maryville made headlines around the state in 2003 when it became the first Missouri city to ban smoking, without exemptions, in restaurants, cafeterias, kitchens and dining areas associated with educational institutions, and conference rooms where meals are catered.Teri Harr, health education coordinator at St. Francis Hospital and Health Services and chairwoman of Citizens for a Smoke-Free Nodaway County, said Wednesday that the local anti-smoking organization continues to lobby for an expansion of the ban that would include all workplaces.

The group presented a draft ordinance to the Maryville City Council this summer, and public hearings on the proposed statute are scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 26 and Nov. 9 at City Hall.
“When we have research like this it certainly helps our credibility on issues that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Harr said. “We’ve been looking at the public health part of this since 1998, when the city restricted sales of tobacco products to behind the counter. The coalition continues to meet to see how we can help workplaces work on their smoking policies.”

Passage of the proposed ordinance, Harr said, would help the coalition meet its goal of “protecting every worker, because there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.”

Harr said that she agreed with Dr. Steven A. Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco, who recently discounted the notion that smoking bans will cause a serious drop in business for bars and restaurants.

After Maryville adopted its smoking ban in 2003, she said, the coalition came back in 2004 with a study by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services showing that local sales tax revenue from restaurants actually increased 11 percent during the year after the ordinance went into effect.
Northwest Missouri State University, which has long banned smoking from its academic and administrative buildings and residence halls, announced this summer that it will declare its campus entirely smoke-free in 2010.

The second recent smoking study, published in the Sept. 21 issue of Circulation, reported a 17 percent drop in heart attack rates one year after restrictions, and a 36 percent drop after three years.

It incorporated data from 13 studies in the United States, Canada and Europe. Meyers’ KU research effort analyzed data from 11 studies of 10 public smoking bans in the same geographic regions.

Meyers said that the greatest benefit revealed in his study was seen in people younger than 50. Women seemed to benefit more than men, but for an unknown reason, he said.
His results also indicate that a nationwide ban on smoking in public places would prevent 145,000 heart attacks a year in the United States.

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