The NC Division of Public Health report cites studies from numerous communities, states and countries that show similar declines in heart attack rates after enacting tobacco-free policies as well as a 2008 Institute of Medicine report concluding smoke-free laws are a proven way to decrease heart attack rates.
“The Institute of Medicine has evaluated the effects of indoor smoking bans world-wide, and data consistently show that smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks,” Dr. Engel said. “The Centers for Disease Control acknowledges that secondhand smoke exposure causes heart attacks; even a brief stay in a smoky area can trigger a heart attack in someone who is at risk, such as those with heart disease, a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.”
Dr. Engel says the decline in heart attacks in the state in 2010 represents an estimated $3.3 to $4.8 million in health care cost savings. Secondhand smoke is a known trigger for other health conditions like asthma, stroke, and chest pain, and is a major risk factor for lung cancer, North Carolina’s leading cancer killer.
The heart attack study can be viewed at NC Report on Heart Attack Rate After Smoke-Free Law.