In the news again: second-hand smoke and heart attacks

Call me naïve, but I was surprised – maybe even incredulous – when I wrote about a 2007 study by Indiana University’s Dong-Chul Seo that found that hospital admissions for heart attack decreased for nonsmokers in Monroe County, Ind., after a countywide smoking ban had been implemented.

pack of cigarettes with health warning labelIt certainly was news to me that people with no risk factors for heart attack could still have one simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time – by being exposed to second-hand smoke.

“Heart attack admissions for smokers saw no similar decline during the study, so the benefits of the ban appear to come more from the reduced exposure to second-hand smoke among nonsmokers than from reduced consumption of tobacco among smokers,” Seo, an associate professor in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, said at the time.

Five years – and numerous new smoke-free laws later

Smoking bans and their link to heart attack, asthma and other conditions have received a lot of ink this week with new studies from the Mayo Clinic and the University of California, San Francisco.

In the Mayo Clinic study, which examined the impact of a new smoking ban at restaurants in a particular county, heart attacks decreased 33 percent per capita during 18 months of the ban; heart attack deaths dropped by 17 percent.

The UCSF study crunched results from 45 previous studies and focused on 33 smoke-free laws worldwide, finding drops in hospitalizations for heart attack, stroke, asthma and other respiratory diseases.


Indiana is ranked 49th of 50 states for protecting workers from smoking at job sites. Another Indiana University study found that 75 percent of Hoosiers support a statewide or community indoor workplace smoking ban.

Terrell Zollinger, professor of epidemiology and associate director of the Center for Health Policy in the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, discussed his study this week at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

Tags: , , , ,