Most people are aware of the long-term health risks of smoking. From heart disease to cancers, and many things in between, smoking will shorten your life expectancy. Quitting now will improve your life expectancy, even if you’ve been smoking for a long time. Nevertheless, it may be somewhat intangible to a smoker that they ‘may reduce their risk of getting cancer 20 years from now,’ so the long-term benefits are not always a great incentive to quit. But new research shows that quitting has short-term health benefits as well.
In two separate studies released recently, researchers have found a statistical link between laws that ban public smoking, and a significant reduction in cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions. Many states or municipalities have banned smoking in public, indoor spaces. This varies from place to place, but usually includes workplaces, restaurants, entertainment venues, and more. Some areas allow exemptions for bars, or allow for a designated smoking area, but many don’t. The studies show that in areas that ban public smoking, hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory ailments were reduced between 10% and 39%, compared to other areas that did not have bans, and compared to the same areas before their bans.
An Arizona study showed a 22% reduction in admissions for asthma, a 13% reduction for heart attack, 44% reduction for stroke, and 33% reduction for unstable angina (as reported by the Arizona Daily Star).
A Canadian study found a 39% reduction in cardiovascular admissions, and a 33% drop in respiratory admissions.
These findings apply to all hospital admissions, so they do not specifically apply to smokers. In addition to the possibility that smokers are smoking less due to the restrictions, there is evidence that non-smokers are also healthier due to the reduction of second-hand smoke. Notably, child asthma cases were reduced substantially. These are not figures that take effect 10 years from now. These are current reductions, which save an estimated $17 million in one year for Arizona alone.
If you are a smoker, trying to quit, then these bans help you, and those around you. Other research finds smokers that live in areas with public smoking bans have more success when trying to quit smoking. Reduced opportunity and reduced influence seem to help people trying to quit. We’ll look more closely at that research in a future article.