NC Smoke-Free Law Cited for Fewer Heart Attack Cases in ERs

Emergency room visits by North Carolinians experiencing heart attacks have declined by 21 percent since the January 2010 start of the state’s Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law, which was supported by the NCMS. State Health Director Jeffrey Engel, MD, reported the results to the Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force on Wednesday.

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.

 
 

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