Skip to main content

Smoking ban linked to annual 5% drop in emergency admissions for asthma

There are some who still question the merits of banning smoking in pubic places. Oppositin is largely on two grounds: that it infringes civil liberties of those who wish to smoke andthat it has damaged trade in public houses. Neither of these holds much credibility. Civil liberties can equally be used to justify protecting others from risks of passive smoking. Such considerations in public health are always going to be balanced judgements. Evidence is mounting that such a judgement is right for banning smoking in public places. 

New evidence now shows that emergency admissions for asthma among adults fell by just under 5% in each of the first three years after the ban on smoking in public places was introduced in England. The results come from the largest study of its kind, published online in Thorax.

This adds up to around 1900 fewer such admissions every year, the authors calculate, and confirms the value of public health interventions, such as smoking bans.

They base their findings on the number of emergency admissions for asthma among adults aged 16 and over in England between April 1997 and December 2010.

Smoking in all public places was banned in July 2007 in England, where the prevalence of asthma is one of the highest in the world, affecting almost 6% of the population.

During the study period, 502,000 adults with asthma were admitted to hospital as emergencies. As expected, admissions were higher during the winter months than during the summer, although the numbers of admissions varied widely from region to region.

After taking account of seasonal temperatures, variations in population size, and long term trends in the prevalence of asthma, the figures showed that emergency admissions for the condition fell by 4.9% among adults for each of the first three years following the introduction of the smoking ban.

The percentage drop was similar across all geographical regions of the country.

Across England as a whole, the authors calculate that this adds up to around 1900 fewer such admissions in the year immediately following the ban, with a similar number in each of the two subsequent years.

The authors point out that although these figures are lower than those in other countries where smoking bans have been introduced, this might be because many workplaces in England had already adopted smoke free policies before the nationwide ban took effect.

The authors emphasise that although the association they found was significant, it does not prove that the legislation was responsible for the fall in emergency admissions for asthma. Nevertheless, they point out that their data are consistent with other research linking the smoking ban to measures of improved health, and attribute the association to a reduction in second hand exposure to tobacco smoke.

Furthermore, the size of the study population, plus the efforts to account for other underlying factors, add weight to the findings, they suggest.

“[The study] provides further support to a growing body of national and international evidence of the positive effects that introducing smoke free polices has on public health,” they conclude.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

When Finance Drives Destruction

Tackling climate change means stopping the funding of rainforest destruction, says a significant study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.  The UK's financial services have provided directly over £8.7 billion to 167 different traders, processors, and buyers of forest-risk commodities (cocoa, rubber, timber, soy, beef, palm oil, pulp & paper) from 2013 to 2021.   With direct and indirect investment,  the figure rises to a staggering £200 bn.  Whilst not all that investment is in destructive projects,  the study concludes there is little transparency on the risk.  Finance is the oil in the economic machine.  But it also drives decisions. We all know the importance of money. We borrow to invest. So much depends on it, such as company pensions.  Do we really know what our pension pots are doing? We invest for the future. But what kind of future? Is all investment good?  Much investment is bad. Investment drives the nature of our economy. It drives our decisions as individuals,