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Smoking Bans Slash Heart Attacks

Banning workplace smoking leads to a reported 33% drop in heart attacks in one MN county.

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By Valerie Tejeda

10/30/12

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Banning smoking in your workplace may save even more lives than you thought. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota saw a massive 33% decrease in heart attack rates after public smoking bans were put into place in one Minnesota county. While the bans caused some smokers to quit, the significant drop in cardiac arrests suggests that secondhand smoke may be a greater risk factor for heart disease than previously thought. “I think the bottom line is this should turn the page on the chapter discussing whether or not secondhand smoke is a risk factor for heart attacks,” says Dr. Richard D. Hurt, author of the study and a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the study examined medical data from Olmsted County (population 144,000) over two time periods: the 18 months before the smoking ban was put into place for just restaurants in 2002, and the 18 months after the ban was extended to all workplaces and all bars bars back in 2007. “Smoking rates declined in Minnesota between 2000 and 2010, from about 20% to 15%, but that change alone was not enough to explain the 33% drop in heart attacks,” says Dr. Hurt . Still, the ban did not eliminate health risks entirely, as the researchers found that the rates of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity remained the same.

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