July 31, 2008 - Strongest evidence yet that public bans on smoking improve health by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke. The study: Smoke-free Legislation and Hospitalizations for Acute Coronary Syndrome Jill P. Pell, M.D. et al., New England Journal of Medicine 359: 482-491, July 31, 2008 abstract.
Hospital admissions fell 17% after after Scottish law enacted (prohibited smoking in all enclosed public areas and workplaces after March 2006). There was a 14% reduction in the number of admissions for acute coronary syndrome among smokers, a 19% reduction among former smokers, and a 21% reduction among persons who had never smoked. Researchers found that nonsmokers with heart disease had higher levels of cotinine than the general population but lower levels than before the ban, a sign that their exposure to secondhand smoke had decreased but was still a factor in their heart damage.
U.S. Surgeon General's Office issued a report in 2006 concluding that "smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry" -- a conclusion the tobacco industry disputes. Fact Sheet Smoke-Free Policies Do Not Hurt the Hospitality Industry (October 2006)
Bill Phelps Spokesman for Altria Group Inc: "We think that people should be able to avoid being around second-hand smoke, especially in places they must go, such as government buildings and public transportation. But he added that "business owners, particularly those who own restaurants and bars, should be able determine smoking policy for their own businesses."
There are about one million hospitalizations for acute coronary syndrome in the U.S. every year. Each episode generally costs between $10,000-$20,000 to treat, pegging the cost of this care at $10 billion per year or more.
Reference: Study Supports Health Benefits Of Smoking Ban, by JEREMY SINGER-VINE, Thew Wall Street Journal, 7/31/2008.
Related news brief: Scotland proposes to implement more measures to discourage tobacco use including the banning of tobacco displays..