MONDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Bans on smoking in public areas and workplaces have significantly reduced hospitalizations for heart attacks, strokes and asthma around the world, a new study finds.
Researchers found that "smoke-free laws" in 33 locales led to a 15 percent reduction in hospitalizations for heart attack and a 16 percent reduction in hospitalizations for strokes.
Smoking bans also cut hospitalizations for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases by 24 percent.
"Smoke-free laws have dramatic and immediate impacts on health and the associated medical costs," said lead researcher Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.
Twenty-nine U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and many other U.S. cities and counties have smoke-free laws to protect people from secondhand smoke, which is linked to cardiovascular and breathing problems in nonsmokers
The report was published online Oct. 29 in the journal Circulation.
To gauge the effectiveness of smoking bans, Glantz and study co-author Crystal Tan reviewed 45 studies that looked at smoke-free laws in the United States and around the world. Countries included such diverse places as Uruguay, New Zealand and Germany.
This type of study is called a meta-analysis. In such a study, researchers hope to find a common pattern that may not be apparent from a single research project.
The largest decreases in hospitalizations were seen in areas with the most restrictive policies -- for instance, those that ban smoking in workplaces, restaurants and bars.
"More comprehensive laws have bigger effects," Glantz said. "Less comprehensive laws were associated with more hospitalizations."
The study indicates that exceptions in ind
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