Smoking ban slashes toll of heart attacks
THE number heart attacks has fallen dramatically since the smoking ban came in, figures reveal.
At least 1,200 heart attacks were prevented in England in the year after the ban’s introduction, according to a report in the British Medical Journal.
In the largest study of its kind, information on adult heart attack patients from the five years before the ban came into force in July 2007, was compared with data from the subsequent 14 months.
The Bath University research found hospital admissions for heart attacks fell 2.4 per cent in England in the year after it became the last UK nation to ban smoking in indoor public places.
This cut in admissions saved the NHS around £8.4million and is likely to have prevented almost 200 deaths. The survival rate in hospital is 85 per cent, so within a group of 1,200 admissions around 180 would be expected to die.
Experts pointed out that heart attacks are only one of the smoke-related health problems that the ban will have reduced.
Deborah Arnott, of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said longer-term improvements in cancer could also be expected.
Research has already demonstrated that the smoking ban has significantly reduced exposure to secondhand smoke among nonsmokers and children, which is likely to result in further improvements in health.
Smoke, both first and secondhand, is thought to increase the chances of a heart attack by making the blood more prone to clotting, reducing levels of ‘good’ cholesterol and raising the risk of dangerous heart rhythms.
More than one in five adults in Britain is a smoker, with 23 per cent of men and 21 per cent of women smoking regularly. There
‘Green light for more measures’
are 230,000 heart attacks each year, of which 123,000 are in adults younger than 75.
Betty McBride, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘ It’s brilliant news that an average three fewer people a day are admitted to hospital suffering a heart attack.
‘What’s more, we’ll see more benefits in future because heart attacks aren’t the only way that tobacco smoke harms the heart.
‘Government should see this as a green light for further life-saving measures, going beyond the forthcoming ban on cigarette vending machines, to crack down on illegal tobacco smuggling and introducing plain packaging on cigarette boxes.
‘These will also help stop people dying prematurely because of smoking-related illnesses.’
Previous studies have shown reductions in the number of heart attacks of 14 to 17 per cent after bans were introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Experts said the effect was smaller in England because many workplaces and restaurants were already smoke-free when the law changed.