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Smoking bans ease asthmatics

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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ATLANTA – New research shows that smoking bans spare many children with asthma from being hospitalised, a finding that suggests that smoke-free laws have even greater health benefits than previously believed.
 Other studies have charted the decline in adult heart attack rates after smoking bans were adopted.
The new study, conducted in Scotland, looked at the incidence of asthma-related hospitalisations of children, which fell 13 per cent a year after smoking was barred in 2006 from workplaces and public buildings, including bars and restaurants.
Before the ban, admissions had been rising five per cent a year in Scotland, which has a notoriously poor health record among European countries.
Earlier United States studies, in Arizona and Kentucky, reached similar conclusions. But this was the largest study of its kind – and offered the strongest case that smoking bans can bring immediate health improvements for many people.
Cigarette smoke is a trigger for asthma attacks. So researchers reasoned that tracking severe cases was perhaps the best way to measure a smoking ban’s immediate effect on children.
Acute asthma is the tip of the iceberg, more easily tracked than less severe breathing problems, ear infections and other problems seen in children that have been linked to a caregiver’s smoking, said Terry Pechacek of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s office on smoking and health.
This week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that city officials would pursue a broad extension of the city’s smoking ban to parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas throughout the city.
Many European countries – including Britain, France and Germany – forbid smoking in all public places.
In the new report, researchers looked at emergency hospital admissions for asthma at all of Scotland’s hospitals from January 2000 through October 2009. The data was for children age 14 and younger. (AP)