National smoking bans reduce emergency respiratory admissions
MedWire News: Results from an Irish study show that a national ban on smoking in the workplace significantly reduced emergency room admissions due to respiratory illness in the 2-year period after its introduction.
"We already know the disastrous effects that smoking has on our health," said lead researcher Imran Sulaiman, from Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin.
"This study further proves that the implementation of a workplace smoking ban improves general health and also reduces hospital burden by respiratory illness, one of the most common illnesses to present to the emergency services."
Speaking at the American Thoracic Society's International Conference in Denver, Colorado, USA, Sulaiman explained that previous research has shown that the introduction of national smoking bans in the workplace and other indoor public spaces has led to improved respiratory health among bar workers, a reduction in emergency admissions for acute coronary syndromes, and a reduction in pediatric hospitalizations due to asthma.
However, he added that "there is a paucity of data examining the effect of workplace smoking bans on acute respiratory illness in an adult, working-age population."
To address this, the team examined data relating to emergency pulmonary, cardiac, and cerebrovascular hospital admissions among the working-age population (age 20-70 years) for the 2-year period before and the 2-year period after the implementation of the Irish smoking ban in 2004.
The researchers also examined climate, pollution, and influenza data for the same time periods.
They found that there was a significant 13% reduction in emergency hospital admissions due to cardio-pulmonary disease in the 2-year period after introduction of the ban compared with the 2-year period beforehand.
The researchers observed an overall trend toward reduced pulmonary admissions after the ban compared with beforehand, but the reduction among the 20-29 year-old age group was significant, at 36%. There was also a significant 36% reduction in emergency admissions for asthma.
In addition, the team observed a trend toward reduced admissions for acute coronary syndromes after the ban compared with beforehand, which reached statistical significance among men and in the 50-59-, and 60-69-year age groups.
These differences were not accounted for by changes in air quality, influenza incidence, or climate.
No reductions in admissions for cerebrovascular disease were observed after introduction of the ban compared with beforehand.
Sulaiman concluded: "The implementation of a workplace smoking ban was associated with a national decline in admissions with acute pulmonary disease and acute coronary syndromes among specific age groups, as well as an overall reduction in asthma admissions. This may result from reduced exposure of vulnerable individuals to environmental tobacco smoke."
He added: "These results further emphasize the benefit of reducing secondhand smoke exposure."
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By Mark Cowen