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Smoking bans reduce the risk of heart attacks associated with secondhand smoke
Date:10/15/2009

WASHINGTON -- Smoking bans are effective at reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart disease associated with exposure to secondhand smoke, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report also confirms there is sufficient evidence that breathing secondhand smoke boosts nonsmokers' risk for heart problems, adding that indirect evidence indicating that even relatively brief exposures could lead to a heart attack is compelling.

"It's clear that smoking bans work," said Lynn Goldman, professor of environmental health sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and chair of the committee of experts that wrote the report. "Bans reduce the risks of heart attack in nonsmokers as well as smokers. Further research could explain in greater detail how great the effect is for each of these groups and how secondhand smoke produces its toxic effects. However, there is no question that smoking bans have a positive health effect."

About 43 percent of nonsmoking children and 37 percent of nonsmoking adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in the United States, according to public health data. Despite significant reductions in the percentages of Americans breathing environmental tobacco smoke over the past several years, roughly 126 million nonsmokers were still being exposed in 2000.

A 2006 report from the U.S. Surgeon General's office, THE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF INVOLUNTARY EXPOSURE TO TOBACCO SMOKE, concluded that exposure to secondhand smoke causes heart disease and indicated that smoke-free policies are the most economical and effective way to reduce exposure. However, the effectiveness of smoking bans in reducing heart problems has continued to be a source of debate.

The IOM committee conducted a comprehensive review of published and unpublished data and testimony on the relationship between secondhand smoke and short-term and long-term heart problems. Eleven key studies that evaluated the
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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