Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

June 16th, 2008:

Heart Attack Admissions Fall By Up To 40% Since Smoking Ban

The Times – June 16, 2008 – Will Pavia

The number of heart attack patients being admitted to emergency wards has fallen sharply in more than half of England’s hospital trusts since smoking was banned in public places.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are an early indication of the impact of the smoking ban on heart disease rates in England. Some hospitals have seen the number of cases fall by 41 per cent since last July.

The British Heart Foundation said that it showed the ban was the “most significant public health initiative this century”.

Studies in Scotland and Ireland, which introduced a public-smoking ban in 2006, showed hospital admissions for heart attacks falling by 17 and 14 per cent respectively. Comparable evidence has come from France and Italy.

These drops in the rate of heart attacks have been attributed to a large number of people stopping smoking, and far fewer people being exposed to airborne toxins through passive smoking.

The Government has not yet published figures documenting the effects of the ban in England. But NHS records show that there were 1,384 fewer heart attacks in the nine months after the legislation was introduced than in the same period a year earlier.

The figures, obtained by the Daily Mail, show admissions for heart attacks from 114 trusts: 66 saw a drop in admissions compared with the same period the year before. The most striking figures came from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, where there was a 41 per cent fall, or 418 fewer cases.

In the remaining 48 trusts, the number of admissions remained the same or increased slightly.

The Department of Health welcomed the figures as “good news” but added that it was too early to attribute falls in heart attack rates to the new legislation.

Rates of heart disease were falling before smoking in public was banned in European countries, and various factors, including mild weather, can contribute to a fall. Nevertheless, the health benefits of stopping smoking are well established. A year after a person quits smoking, the risk of a heart attack falls to half that of a smoker.

Nicholas Boon, of the British Cardiovascular Society, said: “When you place these figures with the research in Scotland, Ireland, France and Rome, it is consistent with the observation that the ban has been followed by improvements in heart attack rates.”