Reuters (Health) – People living in countries with public smoking bans have lower exposure to secondhand smoke and better health, according to a fresh look at past research from 21 nations.
Smoking bans were tied to a decrease in health problems and deaths – especially those related to heart disease, researchers report in the journal Cochrane Library, online February 4.
“I think the bans benefit everybody through a reduction of secondhand smoke exposure,” said senior author Cecily Kelleher, of University College Dublin in Ireland.
Implementing these bans across the globe, especially in developing countries with emerging chronic health issues, could have a large impact on the population’s health, she told Reuters Health.
Tobacco is currently responsible for the death of about one in every 10 adults around the world, the researchers write. They did their analysis for the Cochrane Collaboration, which is known for reviewing medical evidence and determining its quality.
A previous Cochrane review found that smoking bans reduced people’s exposure to secondhand smoke, but back then the reviewers weren’t able to show that decreased smoke exposure led to better health.
“We undertook the original review in 2010, and the evidence base was nothing like the evidence now,” said Kelleher.
This time, the researchers specifically included studies that looked beyond secondhand smoke exposure. For example, they looked in medical databases for studies examining links between smoking bans and rates of heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, infant health and deaths.