Study: Smoke-free Workplace Laws = Immediately Improved Heart Health

A new study released by Indiana University researchers shows that strong smoke-free workplace laws result in immediate and significant improvements in heart health, particularly in nonsmokers. The study found a 59 percent net decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks, also known as acute myocardial infarctions (AMIs), in nonsmokers with no prior cardiac history in Monroe County, Indiana versus the control county during the study period, which tracked 22 months prior to and following the implementation of a smoke-free law.

According to Cynthia Hallett, executive director of the Berkeley, Calif.-based Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, "The Monroe County, Indiana study is the eighth looking at the link between smoke-free laws and heart disease. The results are consistent among all these reports, conducted by different researchers in different communities. The bottom line is smoke-free laws save lives."

The study, "Reduced Admission for Acute Myocardial Infarction Associated with a Public Smoking Ban: Matched Controlled Study," conducted by Dong-Chul Seo, Ph.D. and Mohammad Torabi, Ph.D. will be published in Journal of Drug Education. The study measured whether there was a change in admissions for AMIs in patients with no history of previous cardiac events or key risk factors for cardiac events (hypertension and/or high cholesterol) during the study period--the 22 months prior to and 22 months since the implementation of a smoke-free law that covers workplaces, restaurants, bars, and clubs in Monroe County, Indiana vs. the control county, Delaware County, Indiana, which had no smoke-free law during the study.

ANR says the Monroe County study is groundbreaking because it is the first to examine the impact of a smoke-free workplace law on the heart health of nonsmokers, rather than the general population, and it reaffirms the conclusions of the landmark 2006 U.S. Surgeon General's Report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Secondhand Smoke Exposure, which states that secondhand smoke exposure may have immediate effects on the cardiovascular systems of nonsmokers. Previous studies in Helena, Montana and Pueblo, Colorado showed a 40 percent and a 27 percent overall drop in AMIs following the implementation of smoke-free workplace laws in those cities. Studies in New York, Ireland, Scotland, and Italy found similar results.

"Smoke-free indoor air is a mainstream idea whose time has come," said Hallett. "It's no longer a question of who will be next to go smoke-free, but who will be last."

More than 655 U.S. local communities and 25 states have enacted local laws providing for smoke-free air in all enclosed workplaces, including restaurants and bars, according to the ANR Foundation Local Ordinance Database. Nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population is protected by a smoke-free law, but gaps remain in some regions and job sectors, ANR says. For a map of cities and states with smoke-free laws, go to http://no-smoke.org/pdf/100Map.pdf.

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