Studies Lend Support to Smokefree Environments

Indianapolis - Smoke-free legislation reduces emergency hospitalizations for childhood asthma, saving lives and healthcare dollars, according to a recent study from Scotland published in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the study, before the legislation was implemented, admissions for asthma were increasing at a mean rate of 5.2% per year. After implementation of the legislation, there was a mean reduction in the rate of admissions of 18.2% per year relative to the rate on March 26, 2006.

Also, recently a study completed by Cornell University of more than 120 individuals revealed that smokers, as well as those exposed to even low levels of secondhand smoke, suffered damage to the tissues of the airway in the throat. The study supports other epidemiologic studies linking low level tobacco smoke exposure to lung health risk, identifies the genesmost sensitive to tobacco smoke and defines thresholds at which the lung epithelium responds to low levels of tobacco smoke.

“Studies like this strengthen the argument that smokefree legislation not only improves people’s health but has a strong economic benefit. “said Marti Michel, RN and president of the Indiana Joint Asthma Alliance. “The Campaign for Smokefree Air, as well as many supportive Indiana residents, encourages the Indiana Legislature to take responsible actions and pass smokefree air legislation to further protect Indiana workers from the dangers of lung disease and the many negative health impacts associated with exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Studies conducted in the United States and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine have shown that smokefree workplaces lead to an average reduction in secondhand smoke exposure of 72 percent. Workers in the bar and restaurant industry are 50 percent more likely to develop diseases related to secondhand smoke due to exposure on the job.

Secondhand smoke costs Indiana $390.3 million dollars1 in excess medical expenses, or about $62 dollars per person each year according to a 2008 study by researchers from the Bowen Research Center of the Indiana University School of Medicine.

In September, the Indiana State Health Finance Commission conducted a summer study committee to discuss smokefree work environments for all Indiana workers. ICSA supports the effort to protect all Hoosier workplaces and encourages the legislature to pass comprehensive smokefree air legislation.

“Strong smokefree laws protect everybody’s right to breathe clean air and protect workers and patrons from the 4,000 chemicals, including more than 60 carcinogens, in secondhand smoke,” said Lindsay Grace, manager of advocacy for the American Lung Association. “Secondhand smoke is a proven cause of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses, including the exacerbation of childhood asthma.”