Bans on smoking in public places has not just cleared the air, it has led to major drops in heart attacks.
There were two teams of researchers who came to this conclusion after they looked at evidence from over a dozen areas in the U.S. Canada, and Europe that had begun smoking restrictions.
According to the researchers, the decline in heart attacks was almost right away, and they even increased the longer the bans were held in place. One study found that after smoking bans began, heart attack rates went down an average of 26 percent in a year. After 3 years, heart attack rates declined an average of 36 percent.
David Meyers, from the University of Kansas Medical Center and lead author of one of the studies, said that he is sure of the benefit from the bans and that “the effect of smoke on heart attacks is huge.” He made a conservative estimate that a public smoking ban for the whole U.S. might prevent around 156,400 heart attacks a year. He also said that he was embarrassed that America has not passed a national smoking ban even though Scotland, Ireland, Italy and France already have one in place. His study is in the latest issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
North Carolina, which is the nation’s biggest tobacco-producing state, joined around 30 other states this year in prohibiting smoking in restaurants and bars. In January the N.C. law will take effect and it authorizes fines of up to $50 for anyone who smokes after being asked to stop. A $200 fine will be issued for managers of establishments who don’t enforce the new law after being warned twice.
Recently published in Circulation, the American Heart Associatio’s journal, is a study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. They looked at a lot of related data and came to similar conclusions as the study mentioned earlier.
Also, a new federal ban on flavored cigarettes took effect on September 22. This is one of the first signals that the FDA is practicing new authority to regulate tobacco. The ban is on manufacturing, importing, marketing and distribution of candy, fruit or clove-flavored cigarettes. Health authorities say that these types of cigarettes are more popular with young people. Dr. Lawrence Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said that studies show that 17-year-old smokers are three times more likely to use flavored cigarettes than smokers who are older than 25.
The ban is expected to help stop more than 3,600 youth from smoking because FDA officials said that around 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking as teenagers. A letter was sent to the industry last week that discusses the ban.