Monday, December 20, 2010

Smoking Ban Wont Cut St. Louis Heart Attack Rate

The St. Louis City and County smoking bans were sold on the premise that the St. Louis heart attack rate would plummet due to the bans. Turns out, according to a just published study, that's not going to happen.

From Dr. Michael Siegel's blog:

"A new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation, Center for Studying Health System Change, University of Wisconsin, and Stanford University is the first to examine the relationship between smoking bans and heart attack admissions and mortality trends in the entire nation, using national data. All previous U.S. studies only examined one particular city. In contrast, this study examined data from the Nationwide Inpatient Survey (NIS), which is nationally representative and includes 20% of all non-federal hospital discharges in the United States. The study appears in the Winter 2011 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Without a doubt, this is the most definitive study yet conducted of the short-term effects of smoking bans on cardiovascular disease.

To give you an idea of the scope of this study compared to previous ones, the Helena study involved a total of 304 heart attack admissions in one community over a period of six months. This study examined a total of 673,631 heart attack admissions and more than 2 million heart attack deaths in 467 counties across all 50 states over an 16-year period.

This study fails to find any significant short-term effect of smoking bans on heart attack admissions or heart attack mortality, although a small effect cannot be ruled out. The study refutes the claims from previous studies that smoking bans result in a short-term reduction in heart attacks in the range of 20-40%, as many anti-smoking groups are asserting. It also refutes the conclusion of the Institute of Medicine that smoking bans result in immediate, substantial declines in heart attack admissions."