Smoking ban leads to annual 5% drop in asthma hospital emergencies

no smokingAn annual 5% drop in hospital admissions for asthma patients in England requiring treatment could be attributed to the introduction of the 2007 smoking ban, which made it illegal to smoke in all enclosed public places such as restaurants, nightclubs, bars and shopping centres.

The 5% drop basically means that there are around 1900 fewer asthma-related admissions every year, say the authors of a new study who looked at the number of emergency asthma admissions for adults aged 16 and above in England between the duration of April 1997 and December 2010. Affecting roughly 5.9% of the population, the prevalence of asthma in England stands at one of the largest in the world.

For the study, published in the journal Thorax, Researchers based at the University of Bath discovered that there were a total of 502,000 ‘emergency’ hospital visits due to asthma in this time frame. Unsurprisingly, with cold weather being a trigger for symptoms to flare up, more admissions were evident throughout winter months compared to the summer; however numbers of admissions vastly differed depending on the area of the country.

Researchers took into account factors such as varying seasonal temperatures, differences in population size, and long-term patterns in regards to the prevalence of asthma. After considering all of the aforementioned factors, they discovered that emergency admissions for adults with asthma decreased by 4.9% during each of the first three years after the 2007 smoking ban, with a similar percentage decline in all geographical regions of England.

Dr Michelle Sims, author of the paper, said the benefits of the anti-smoking legislation were clear to see, commenting: “Secondhand smoke exposure has significant adverse health effects on the adult respiratory system with current evidence suggesting that it contributes to the onset and exacerbation of asthma. There is already evidence that smoke free legislation in England is associated with reductions in second hand smoke exposure among non-smoking adults and fewer emergency hospital admissions for heart attacks and childhood asthma. Our findings show that these health benefits extend to adult asthma.”

Emily Humphreys, head of policy and public affairs at the charity Asthma UK, said: “Eight out of 10 people with asthma tell us that other people’s smoke makes their asthma worse. That’s why we campaigned for the smoke-free laws and are delighted to see evidence of the benefits these are having on the millions of people with asthma in England. By taking action to reduce asthma triggers, we can prevent asthma attacks that can lead to hospitalisation and even death. However, more still needs to be done to prevent attacks, which kill three people each day in the UK.”

This new study is interesting and certainly highlights how cigarette smoke and asthma can be strongly connected. The findings follow that of a separate study which Medical Specialists Pharmacy reported back in January. Conducted by a team at Imperial College London, that particular study looked at admission rates spanning back to April 2002 and found an incredible 12% decline in childhood asthma hospital admissions during the first 12 months after the ban. This was calculated by taking into account a predicted 2.2% rise annually – and a decline continued in subsequent years with 3.4% fall per year for the next two years.

Asthma is a serious condition that is only worsened by exposure to cigarette smoke. Medical Specialists Pharmacy advise you to immediately quit smoking if you or a loved one also suffers from asthma, and we are able to help you achieve this with the aid of the smoking cessation medication Champix.

Champix mimics the effect of nicotine on the body, reducing the urge to smoke and relieving withdrawal symptoms. It can also decrease the enjoyment you experience of smoking if you are still smoking whilst on the treatment. The medication equates to just £75.00 per pack – inexpensive compared to an estimated £2,555 you can save each year by quitting smoking!

Alternatively, visit the ‘Asthma and Allergies’ area of the Medical Specialists website for a full list of all the preventer and reliever inhalers we provide for suitable patients.

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