June 15, 2008

Almost a year after smoking ban in UK, less heart attack cases

In a pointer towards a connection between a cardiac arrest and smoking restrictions, studies revealed today that the number of heart attack cases have fallen sharply in the country since smoking was banned in public places in the United Kingdom.

Coming 11 months after the smoking ban in public places was introduced in UK, the figures reveal that nearly six in ten National Health Service trusts reported a decrease in the number of heart patients being admitted in emergency wards. Some hospitals have seen the number of cases decline by as much as 41 per cent since last July, when the ban came into force.

The Government has not yet published figures documenting the effects of the ban in England, but the National Health Service records show that there were 1,384 fewer heart attacks in the nine months after the legislation was introduced than in the same period a year earlier. Similar studies in Scotland and Ireland, where a public-smoking ban was introduced in 2006, also registered hospital admissions for heart attacks falling by 17 and 14 per cent respectively.

Comparable evidence has also come from France and Italy, pointing towards a link between drop in heart attacks and smoking ban.

The British Heart Foundation said the figures showed that the smoking ban was the "most significant public health initiative (in) this century".

The drop in the rate of heart attacks have been attributed to a large number of people stopping smoking, and far fewer people being exposed to airborne toxins through passive smoking.

The Department of Health also welcomed the figures as "goods news" but added that it was too early to attribute the fall in heart attack rates to the new legislation.

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