Smoke-free laws are saving lives

Smoke-free laws are saving lives

Have smoke-free workplace laws made an impact on the health of Americans?

It turns out that they have in Minnesota, where researchers have found there’s been a reduction in asthma-related emergency department visits in both adults and children after a smoke-free workplace law took effect.

Illinoisans have also benefited from The Smoke-Free Illinois Act which went into effect on January 1, 2008. Between 2006—2011, hospitalization rates have declined by 7.6 percent for asthma, 14.5 percent for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and 13 percent for stroke according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The evidence base for declines in hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases following implementation of smoke-free bans has been established through numerous studies in cities and states throughout the United States.

It is estimated that exposure to secondhand smoke kills at least 65,000 people who do not smoke a year in the United States, including 2,900 in Illinois. Inhaling secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and increases the risk of serious respiratory problems in children, such as asthma attacks and lower respiratory infections.

Physicians are applauding the trend.

“We have long known the causal relationship between cigarette smoke exposure and exacerbation of pulmonary (respiratory/lung) disease and heart disease. Being able to have evidence that links the benefit of smoke-free environments and less emergency department visits is powerful,” says Dr. Javeed Ahkter, a pulmonologist at Advocate Medical Group in Oak Lawn, Ill.

Dr. Ahkter says we need to stay the course.

“The evidence shows that communities need to continue to support smoke-free laws and policies in order to reduce the burden of disease caused by secondhand smoke,” he says.


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  1. Lynn Hutley

    Great to hear! I just appreciate not having to leave a restaurant smelling like an ashtray!

    • Last time I checked, Lynn, nobody ever made anyone work or play in an environment which allowed smoking.

  2. I am grateful to live in Illinois where we are “smoke-free” for everything. I only wished it would have happened earlier.

    • . . . and Jo, if I may, you should be more grateful that we live in America, where property rights used to mean something. Be careful on your “wishes” for more government control. At some point it will personally affect you. And once your rights and liberties are taken, outside of executive orders, you know, the once Gov. Rauner has been issuing and everyone’s been crying about, those rights and liberties will be impossible to get back.

  3. The headline Smoke-free laws are saving lives is misleading as the article tries to substantiate such claim by noting the finds by researchers in Minnesota. A reduction in hospitalization rates does not necessarily lead to “saving lives.” Either way, a link to the study would have been nice or the very least mention of the journal for which it appeared. Incorrect terminology is also uses “. . . implementation of smoke-free bans . . ?” I think the author meant to say “. . implementation of smoking bans. . “

    Let us keep in mind the connection between smoking bans and the saved lives implied in this article. This is important because the health charities continue to cite the same figures over and over again regarding the alleged number of deaths to second hand smoke. Figures that have their origin in a single study the US EPA conducted in 1997.

    The more scrutiny smoking bans and the perceived effects of secondhand smoke are given, the more we see this campaign is smoke and mirrors.

  4. Thank you, Jefferson, for providing a link to an actual article with an actual link to a Journal article. The article above is clearly a correlation study, and I think we all know that correlation does not mean causation.

  5. Jefferson, if you are a smoker–keep at it!

  6. Since I am not a smoker i dont mind the laws at all but I could see why smokers probobly have a hard time coping with these laws especially when its below zero.

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.