November 14, 2008 - The Massachusetts (MA) Department of Public Health (DPH) today released new data indicating a significant decrease in the number of heart attack deaths following the implementation of the statewide smoke-free workplace law in 2004. DPH partnered with the Harvard School of Public Health on the study in which heart attack death data from all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns was reviewed. It was found that an estimated average of 577 fewer fatal heart attacks annually than expected since the smoking ban took effect.
"People have assumed that the only benefit we will be able to measure of a smoking ban is long-term benefits," (such as diminished cancer rates) said John Auerbach, the state public health commissioner. "This study demonstrates a real connection between smoking bans and short-term improvement in health outcomes."Exposure to secondhand smoke (passive smoking. side-stream smoke, involuntary) for 30 minutes in amounts that mimic what happens in a restaurants or bar can damage the lining of blood vessels.
Even Michael Siegel, MD, MPH a critic of the results of some antismoking studies believes this is the strongest study yet on the effect of smoking bans on heart attacks.
The study, to be presented today to the MA Public Health Council, appears destined to bolster the case of Boston health authorities who have already given preliminary approval to a sweeping strengthening of their tobacco control laws. Boston To Ban Drugstore Tobacco Sales..
Reference: Smoking ban tied to a gain in lives
Fatal heart attacks drop in Massachusetts by Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, 11/12/2008.
Related: So-called first study to examine what happens to public health when people stop smoking — and breathing secondhand smoke — in public places.