Study reckons smoking ban stopped heart attacks

A study has suggested that the smoking ban has prevented thousands of heart attacks.

However pro smoking groups have called the research, which was carried out by a team at the University of Bath and published online by the British Medical Journal, “fanciful.”

The study, the first of its kind, looked at routinely collected hospital statistics data. Scientists analysed admissions of all patients over 18, admitted with a primary diagnosis of myocardial infarction, from July 2002 to September 2008. This gave them five years’ data from before the legislation and 15 months’ data from after.

It found that there “was a small but significant reduction in the number of emergency admissions for myocardial infarction after the implementation of smoke-free legislation.”

First author of the paper Dr Michelle Sims said: “After the implementation of smokefree legislation there was a statistically significant drop of 2.4 percent in the number of emergency admissions for myocardial infarction. This implies that just over 1200 emergency admissions for myocardial infarction were prevented over a 12 month period.”

Although this research has gone down well with the British Heart Foundation, which described it as “brilliant”, pro-smoking groups are less than convinced.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, said: “It’s far too soon to draw definitive conclusions about the public health benefits of the smoking ban, especially when they are based on evidence such as this.

“Heart attacks are multifactorial. To suggest that reduced exposure to secondhand smoke is the reason for a reduction in the number of hospital admissions for a heart attack is, at best, fanciful.

“The number of emergency heart attack admissions had been falling for several years, even before the smokefree legislation, so what we are seeing is part of a trend that is unlikely to be linked to the smoking ban.

“This study is designed to show the benefits of prohibition. What is doesn’t show is the misery that has been heaped on to hundreds of thousands of people by an unnecessarily harsh and divisive piece of legislation.”

Right, where did we put that ashtray?