Good news for Caterer’s Stub out Smoking campaign which launched in September 2004 and called for a ban on smoking in all workplaces.
Two studies out in the past week are claiming a drop in heart attacks among people living in Ireland and Scotland, a year after the smoking ban was introduced in both countries.
A study of nine Scottish hospitals reported a 17% fall in admissions for heart attacks, while in Ireland the number of heart attacks is believed to have dropped by 14%.
According to the research in Ireland, at Cork University Hospital, the drop in heart attacks was more marked in smokers than non-smokers, suggesting they smoked less as a result of the ban.
The research also suggests the change in non-smokers is likely to be because they were exposed to less passive smoking at work and in bars and restaurants. If the results are replicated throughout the UK, the study believes in excess of 17,000 heart attacks could be prevented in the UK because of the ban.
Meanwhile, the figure from Scotland is included in one of a series of research papers to be presented today at an international conference discussing the impact of the smoking ban on Scotland’s health, air quality and society.
In addition to a reduction in heart attack admissions by 17% in nine Scottish hospitals (compared to a reduction of 3% per year in the decade before the ban), the research also found
• a 39% reduction in second-hand smoke exposure in 11-year-olds and in adult non-smokers
• an 86% reduction in second-hand smoke in bars
• no evidence of smoking shifting from public places into the home
• high public support for the legislation even among smokers, whose support increased once the legislation was in place.
The figures will no doubt spark more debate about the ban, but the anti-ban lobby may struggle to explain these findings away.