Iowa - smoking ban leads to decrease in hospitalizations for cardiovascular diseases..

January 18, 2010 - Governor of Iowa Chet Culver signed a near-total ban on public smoking on Tuesday (4/15/2008), a law that took effect July 1, 2008. The increase in sales tax to $1.36 a pack started mid-March of 2007. There has been a decrease in the number of Iowans who smoke.

Now a new report shows Iowa’s smoking ban has already led to a decrease in hospitalizations for cardiovascular diseases. According to the report from the University of Iowa and Iowa Department of Public Health, the largest drop was in coronary heart disease, which showed an average 24 percent reduction in hospital admissions since the Smokefree Air Act was implemented in 2008. The report was presented Thursday, January 14th by the American Cancer Society at a legislative breakfast in Des Moines.

That represents 2,324 fewer Iowans with the condition — the single greatest cause of death in the United States — compared to the three preceding years. “That’s a lot of dollars, too, if you think about it in that way,” said Christopher Squier, a lead author of the report.

The act prohibits smoking in nearly all public places in Iowa, including restaurants and bars. Squier, a UI oral pathology professor, said the decreases are related to smoke exposure. Even 30 minutes of exposure could trigger a condition in people who are vulnerable, he said, because of the effect of smoke on vessels that supply blood to the heart. “As we increasingly have clean air, people don’t have this exposure,” Squier said. He noted that the benefit appears to get larger over time, with a more than 40 percent decrease in coronary heart disease admissions in June 2009 compared to June 2008.

Decreases were also seen in admission rates for heart attacks, the leading cause of death worldwide. Those rates dropped by 8 percent, or 483 fewer Iowans with the condition, compared to the preceding three years. Rates of stroke — the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S. and second cause of death worldwide — also decreased. After the smoking ban, rates of stroke admissions at Iowa hospitals dropped by 5 percent, representing 347 fewer Iowans with the condition, compared to the previous three years.

Admission rates for kidney infections and pancreatitis, control conditions in the study, did not change after the smoking ban. Squier said he was not surprised at the results, as studies elsewhere, such as Colorado, New York and Scotland, showed similar reductions.

For example, a report last year from the Institute of Medicine showed decreases of 6 to 47 percent in heart attacks after smoking bans were implemented, based on a large number of studies.

Squier said it will take longer to see the effects on cancer rates. “In 20 years is when we’ll see the real payoff,” he said.

Reference: Report shows health effects of Iowa’s smoking ban by Cindy Hadish,, 1/15/2010.

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Des Moines: Iowa's cigarette tax is now $1.36 per pack, following a jubilant bill-signing ceremony Thursday morning (3/15/2007)..