Study shows smoking bans help

Stuttgart, Ark. -

It’s a highly-debated topic, but one year after passing smoking bans, studies show fewer people are having heart attacks compared with communities without smoking restrictions, according to a report in “Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.” Also, the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline is set to celebrate its first anniversary, marking great strides in tobacco control.

The report aimed to analyze 13 studies in which researchers examined changes in heart attack rates where new laws were enacted in communities around the U.S. Researchers found rates begin to drop immediately, reaching 17 percent after one year. Rates are expected to continue to decline with about a 36 percent drop after three years.

“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.”

The study indicates these numbers include non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke. According to the American Heart Association’s Hear Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Update, non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke at home or at work have a 25 to 30 percent increased risk of developing heart disease.

“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, N.C., 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.”

Thursday, the Arkansas Tobacco Quitline will celebrate its one-year anniversary under operation by vendor Free & Clear, Inc. More than 26,000 tobacco users have called to receive help from the Quitlines free services, which include motivational counseling and medications such as patches and lozenges.

Studies show 31 percent of callers remain successfully quit when measured after seven months.
“We have made great strides in Arkansas tobacco control this year,” Dr. Paul Halverson, director and state office of the Arkansas Department of Health, said. “From the passage of the state and federal tobacco tax increase, we are glad to see Arkansans taking advantage of the reasons and resources to help them quit tobacco.”

By Lesley Valadez
Daily Leader
Sep 30, 2009 Stuttgartdailyleader

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