The introduction of smoke-free laws in Olmsted County, Minnesota in 2002 has led to a decrease in the cases of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths, according to a new study conducted by the Mayo Clinic researchers.
“We now know that not only do smoke-free workplace laws help avoid having a heart attack, but they also reduce the chances of having sudden cardiac death,” lead researcher Dr. Richard Hurt, director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center, said in a news release. “Those are both very dramatic things that have a very big impact on workers as well as patrons.”
The team looked into the relationship of smoke-free workplaces and restaurants in Olmsted County and the incidence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death before and after the passage of smoking bans. They found that 18 months before the county’s first smoke-free ordinance for restaurants went into effect in 2002, the regional incidence of heart attack was 212.3 cases per 100,000 residents. However, 18 months after the implementation of a comprehensive smoke-free law in 2007, that rate dropped by about 45 percent — 102.9 per 100,000 residents.
In addition, the incidence of sudden cardiac death fell from 152.5 to 76.6 per 100,000 residents, a 50 percent reduction, during that same period.
Dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke has been well documented in a string of past research. Apart from raising the risk of heart diseases, secondhand smoke is noted for increasing an individual’s risk to develop lung cancer, asthma, and lower respiratory tract infections. According to the American Cancer Society, secondhand smoke in the U.S. alone is responsible for an estimated 46,000 deaths (every year) from heart disease in people who are current non-smokers. Similarly, about 3,400 non-smoking adults succumb to lung cancer because of secondhand smoke.