Smoking Ban Reduces Emergency Admissions for Asthma
Smoking in all public places has been banned in England since July 2007, and a study found that there has been a significant decline in emergency admissions due to asthma linked to the legislation. The prevalence of asthma in England is one of the highest in the world, affecting almost six percent of the population.
The researchers based their findings on the number of emergency admissions for asthma among people aged 16 and above in England between April 1997 and December 2010. They found that 502,000 adults with asthma were admitted as emergencies during the study period, with more admissions during the winter months than during the summer. The numbers of admissions varied widely from region to region, but percentage drop was similar across all regions of the country after the introduction of the smoking ban.
After considering variations in seasonal temperatures, population size, and long term trends in the prevalence of asthma, the data showed that emergency admissions among adults for asthma fell by about 5% yearly.
The authors calculate that this indicates that there are around 2,000 fewer such admissions yearly following the ban. They note however, that these figures are lower than those observed in other countries because many workplaces in England had already adopted smoking bans before the nationwide policy took effect.
Although the association does not prove that the policy was responsible for the decline in emergency admissions for asthma, their data are consistent with other research linking smoking bans to measures of improved health due to a reduction in second hand exposure to tobacco smoke.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. England’s smoking ban linked to annual 5 percent drop in emergency admissions for asthma. ScienceDaily.