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Smoking Ban Would Help Reduce Heart Attack Admissions

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The number of heart attack patients admitted to Michigan hospitals could be significantly reduced if a statewide public smoking ban were implemented, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Researchers looked at the average number of hospital admissions from 1999-2006 in Michigan for what is known as acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, and concluded that a smoking ban could lead to 3,340 fewer admissions annually.

"If Michigan were to implement a comprehensive smoking ban tomorrow, we would see a 12 percent drop in heart attack admissions after the first year," says Mouaz Al-Mallah, M.D., Henry Ford's director of Cardiac Imaging Research and lead author of the study.

While the study did not look at medical care costs, researchers theorize the reduction in admissions could mean substantial savings to health care providers. The average cost of a heart-attack admission in Michigan is about $16,000.

The study, funded by the hospital, will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association's annual conference in New Orleans.

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Dr. Al-Mallah says the health benefits to a smoking ban are hard to ignore.

"When you smoke, you're not only hurting yourself but you're hurting me, too," he says. "The bottom line is that even if you save just one heart attack, it is something significant."

The study comes in the midst of an ongoing debate in the Michigan Legislature on whether to outlaw smoking in all public workplaces like bars, restaurants and smoke shops. Smoking already is banned in state and federal government buildings and hospitals.

In September, a comprehensive smoking ban fell six votes short of approval in the Michigan House.

According to Michigan figures, nearly 22 percent of Michigan adults smoke and more than 14,000 adults die each year from their own smoking. Smoking in Michigan accounts for an estimated $3.4 billion in health care costs every year.

Henry Ford's findings mirror the results of several similar studies. In 2007, a study found an 8 percent reduction in hospital admissions one year after the state of New York implemented a public smoking ban. Studies in several European countries had similar results.



12 percent drop in heart attack admissions after the first year? Due to reduced exposure to smoke or reduced smoking rates who knows and apparently who cares. There appears to be a conceptual and advocacy moral divide on this ban issue. The promoters of the bans need to exaggerate to the largest degree available the risk of secondary smoke. While those who are focused in reducing or eliminating entirely the number of those who choose to smoke, are being minimized by ignoring the effects of smoking, in the appearance the entire population [cigarette users included] are affected by secondary smoke. Thus inventing higher numbers in a larger population group dilutes an ability to prove the true effects of smoking versus the effects of exposure to secondary smoke. Cigarette smoke is now believed according to the numbers, to cause more heart attacks when inhaled the second time around. If the effects are as permanent and devastating as described where does the motivation to quit smoking arise, with their fate already sealed? If “there is no safe level of secondary smoke” and we have all obviously been exposed, how do you develop comparative numbers to illustrate harm? Life gets awfully complicated when you start with a deceitful foundation and make it into a lifestyle career choice. Common sense tells us secondary smoke as the worst kept secret in world history Secondary smoke is simply a useful tool; in forcing those who choose to smoke, to stop. When we look at the biological function of nicotine all it does within the body is adjust a neural voltage in the brain, the receptor then initiates an involuntary and quite natural adjustment, setting in motion a number of physiological changes. People are attracted to the product because those changes are desirable to them, otherwise they would not continue to make those adjustments. The thousands of so called deadly ingredients albeit in immeasurable proportions, for the most part existing well below known safe levels, must have some long term effect, and if we put the moral judgments aside perhaps one day we will understand them. The FDA has known for a number of years the levels of the most suspect carcinogens unique to tobacco smoke can be reduced dramatically by simply using whole tobacco leaf with no additives and by flue curing processes we can actually reduce the physical risks of smoking by more than 95%. Reduction of Nitrates and histamines can be achieved as they are elsewhere with simple regulations dealing with the product and not it’s victims for a change. The same groups singing the praises of smoking bans are largely responsible for those regulations being blocked or eliminated, thus they take full responsibility for the preventable diseases which we know will occur. If you are truly concerned with the effects of smoking and saving the lives of people who smoke, demand the regulations. If you just sing the praises of smoking bans to suit personal comfort, your own paternalised hubris awaits.
The author distinguishes a belief the reduction in exposures to second hand smoke was responsible for saving lives, whereas Dr. Michael Siegal states in his blog today the reductions were most likely due to reductions in smoking. Can either tell us how many among those who smoke died and how many among those who do not smoke died, so we can assess the reality for ourselves? By looking at which group proportional to their own numbers in total population were affected [if any differences existed] the debate between them would be over. The fact they do not agree, tells me they did not bother to look and both are guilty of making some pretty broad assumptions. The fact they did not look is puzzling because if either were competent, they would realize foundation of the bans as an effective cause or cure relies entirely in differentiating the people at risk from the rest of the public. How many of those "saved" were known to frequent the bars compared to those who don't? The limited scope of what they did reveal is an indictment of made for media propaganda in place of scientific facts. How many admissions were reduced due to the steady increase of the price of gas and the understandable inversely proportional levels of consumption? Which fits their plots much more accurately than the numbers of those not in the bars the day after a ban, although still smoking elsewhere. Attendance decline was abrupt and presumably would demonstrate abrupt effects if secondary smoke was a significant factor. They still have not explained what was responsible for the identical rate of declines which started well before the bans and how much was allowed for the "norm" if it had continued? With no defined cause we would naturally have to assume it [Whatever "it" was] likely accounted for the majority of the numbers cited.