Friday, August 01, 2008

17% Fall in Hospital Admissions for Heart Attacks and Acute Coronary Problems

Smoke-Free St. Louis City just posted a Wall Street Journal article concerning a Scottish heart attack study suggesting that the Scottish smoking ban has cut heart attacks by 17 percent.

Yesterday, I wrote this letter to the author of the WSJ article Jeremy Singer-Vine:

Mr. Singer-Vine,

Why is your article on the Scottish heart attack study so one-sided? There is plenty of criticim of such studies available. You should have at least gotten a quote from Dr. Michael Siegel concerning this study.

Some of the best research shows that smoking bans do not cause the smoke exposure of nonsmokers to decrease.

Meanwhile a huge heart attack study that properly looks at the heart attack rates of whole states is being denied publication simply because it found smoking bans have no effect on heart attack rates.

I am head of Keep St. Louis Free, a group working to protect the freedomand property rights of business owners in St. Louis. St. Louis has seenthe economic damage smoking bans have done in Columbia, Missouri and we want no part of it. Your article doesn't help.


Bill Hannegan

Mr. Singer-Vine replied:

Mr. Hannegan,

Thank you for your email. I was not aware of Dr. Siegel's opinions, but I will certainly keep him in mind next time I cover the topic. The NEJM study appears to be more rigorous than any previous study, butas a life-long skeptic, I would like to see where the holes are if youwould be willing to point them out.

On the economic impact, there are studies arguing both ways, and certainly the effects are more variable when the ban only covers a smallregion. However, the Surgeon General's report and several meta-analyses suggest that the peer-reviewed studies which show an adverse economicimpact have all been funded by the tobacco industry, calling their accuracy into question. That said, we did acknowledge that there are people who disagree. Further, we gave substantial space and strong placement to Dave Pever, who noted that his bar was in financial trouble because of the ban.

Despite my disagreement with your email, I always enjoy engaging withreaders. Please feel free to get back in touch.


I replied:


Please check out Dr. Siegel's critique of this new study. I think he has quickly found some important holes your readers should know about. If possible, I would love to know what you think of Dr. Siegel's post.

Bill Hannegan