Asthma and premature births down 10% thanks to the smoking ban

smoking banThe ban of smoking in public places has helped to reduce premature births and severe child childhood asthma attacks by 10%, according to research from Europe and the United States and published in the medical journal Lancet.

“Our research shows that smoking bans are an effective way to protect the health of our children,” said Jasper Been of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Population Health Sciences, who led the study.

He says their findings should hopefully result in anti-smoking laws being implemented in those cities, countries and districts that do not currently have such restrictions in place.

The smoking ban was introduced in England in 2007, making it illegal to smoke in all enclosed public places such as restaurants, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and shopping centres. The ban has previously been shown to be highly effective at protecting people from the serious health problems associated with passive (secondhand) smoking, with a 5% drop in asthma hospital emergencies in the years following the ban.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) say tobacco is responsible for the deaths of six million people around the world annually. Over 600,000 of these deaths are not even people who smoke, but those who have died due to heavy exposure to secondhand smoke. Health experts have predicted the worldwide death toll will rise to eight million by 2030 if current trends are maintained.

According to WHO, alarmingly there is just 16% of the world’s population that feel the benefits of being protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws, with a shocking 40% of children around the world being regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

The new research in the Lancet, involved researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, Hasselt University in Belgium, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital analysing data from over 2.5 million births and around 250,000 hospital visits in relation to asthma attacks and is the first comprehensive study assess exactly how anti-smoking legislation has impacted children’s health.

Co-author Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts, and the University of Edinburgh, says there is still a huge opportunity to improve the health of more children around the world.

“The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question.”

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