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Study shows that smoking ban reduces deaths from passive smoking

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The reduction in passive smoking caused by the 2004 Irish ban on smoking in public places has caused a significant fall in the number of deaths from heart disease, respiratory diseases and stroke, according to a study carried out by Brunel researchers working alongside three Irish research institutes.

Since 29 March 2004, smoking in the workplace and in restaurants, bars and pubs has been banned in the Republic of Ireland – the first country in the world to implement a national workplace smoking ban.

The research, looking just at the period from March 2004 to the end of 2007, found that over this three year and eight month interval, 3,726 smoking-related deaths had been averted because of the reduction in passive smoking.

Previous studies had shown decreases in the number of deaths and hospital admissions from heart disease, but this is the first study to examine deaths caused by stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The study was conducted by Sericea Stallings-Smith and Dr Ariana Zeka of Brunel University’s Institute for the Environment, in collaboration with the Dublin Institute of Technology’s Environmental Health Services Institute, the Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland, and University College Cork’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Ireland.

According to Stallings-Smith, the findings show the practical importance of public health policies aimed at reducing exposure to tobacco smoke: “This study confirms the large public health benefits of a population-wide reduction in passive exposure to smoke achieved through laws to ban smoking.”

Dr Zeka confirmed these statements, adding that: “This is the first study to report a reduction in early deaths from strokes and respiratory causes. The results confirm the findings of other studies showing a fall in the number of early deaths from cardiovascular disease since the ban came into force.”

The Brunel researchers are now planning a similar study covering the UK, to gauge the effect of the public smoking ban introduced in 2007.