Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"St. Louis is worst place to live for people with asthma"?


From today's Post-Dispatch:

"The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America today named the St. Louis region the nation's worst, based on factors including an above-average death rate from asthma, a lack of smoke-free laws and high pollen counts."

But the best research has shown that a smoking ban does not reduce the overall exposure of non-smokers to secondhand smoke and actually increases the exposure of young children to smoke as smokers are displaced to their cars and homes.

The researchers summarize their findings:

“This paper evaluates the effect of excise taxes and bans on smoking in public places on the exposure to tobacco smoke of non-smokers. We use a novel way of quantifying passive smoking: we use data on cotinine concentration- a metabolite of nicotine- measured in a large population of non-smokers over time. Exploiting state and time variation across US states, we reach two important conclusions. First, excise taxes have a significant effect on passive smoking. Second, smoking bans have on average no effects on non smokers. While bans in public transportation or in schools decrease the exposure of non smokers, bans in recreational public places can in fact perversely increase their exposure by displacing smokers to private places where they contaminate non smokers, and in particular young children. Bans affect socioeconomic groups differently: we find that smoking bans increase the exposure of poorer individuals, while it decreases the exposure of richer individuals, leading to widening health disparities.”http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications.php?publication_id=3523

Furthermore, bars and restaurants that install air filtration remove all the causes of asthma attacks, not just stray tobacco smoke.