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Smoking Bans Reduce Heart Attacks: Study
Date:10/15/2009

Report could get more states to pass laws to curtail secondhand smoke, experts say ,,

THURSDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Bans on smoking in public places really do work at reducing heart attacks from secondhand smoke, a major study finds.

Smoke-free policies can reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 47 percent and significantly reduce the likelihood of other heart problems, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The report also found compelling evidence that even a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack.

"We did conclude a cause-and-effect relationship exists between heart disease and secondhand smoke exposure," Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, chairwoman of the IOM committee, said during a press conference Thursday.

Also, sufficient evidence exists to support a cause-and-effect relationship "between exposure to secondhand smoke and heart attacks or acute coronary events," said Goldman, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Moreover, the more secondhand smoke you are exposed to, and the longer you're exposed to it, the greater the risk for heart problems or heart attack, Goldman said.

In the United States, about 43 percent of nonsmoking children and 37 percent of nonsmoking adults are exposed to secondhand smoke. Despite efforts to decrease exposure to secondhand smoke, about 126 million nonsmokers were still breathing others' smoke in 2000, according to the report.

In 2006, a U.S. Surgeon General's report confirmed the link between involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke and heart disease, and it determined that smoke-free policies were an inexpensive and effective way to reduce exposure.

But whether smoking bans actually reduced heart disease has been an ongoing debate, according to the IOM.

This new report puts that issue to rest, said
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