Further evidence of the public smoking ban’s positive impact emerged this week, linking it to a decrease in the number of Accident and Emergency admissions across the UK. A research conducted by the University of Bath found that 1,900 fewer asthma patients were being admitted to hospital every year since the ban was imposed in July 2007, with a 5% drop in the number of adult admissions.
Research manager for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Amanda Sandford, lauded the study as “extremely encouraging”. Speaking to The Positive, she affirmed that the results provide clear evidence of the effects of second-hand smoking on asthma, adding that the study “confirms the importance of the legislation as one of the most significant public health measures in the UK”.
Research conducted by the World Health Organization estimates that second-hand smoke contains a mixture of over 4,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic. Approximately 50 of these are known to cause cancer.
Evidence of the legislation’s success was noticed as soon as 12 months following the ban, when the NHS reported studies estimating a 2.4% reduction in heart attack emergency admissions to hospital, amounting to 1,200 fewer cases. Inhaling second-hand smoke can cause immediate harm to the cardiovascular system and has been linked to lung cancer cases.
Figures released last March also credited the smoking ban in Scotland with a major decrease in the number of premature and low weight births. The University of Glasgow found that while 25.4% of mothers smoked before the ban was imposed, this percentage dropped to 18.8% in the following years.
Furthermore, a European study published last year indicated that public smoking bans may be encouraging a decrease in at-home smoking. Surveys conducted during 2003-4 and 2008-9 suggested that the number of people that banned smoking in their homes increased significantly following the introduction of public smoking prohibitions across Western Europe. Figures marked a 38% increase in Germany, a 25% increase in Ireland and a 28% rise in Holland.