Editorial: State did the right thing with smoking ban

New reviews of recent studies conclude that heart attack rates have fallen 17 percent in communities and states after smoking bans were enacted. It’s just further evidence that Wisconsin did the right thing in passing the ban that takes effect next summer.

The analyses were released last week in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Rather than new studies, they each compared the results of about a dozen studies and concluded that community smoking bans have an immediate and dramatic effect on reducing heart attacks.

Doing the math with the approximately 920,000 heart attacks that Americans suffer every year, the Cardiology journal report estimates that public smoking bans could prevent as many as 150,000 annually.

As the number of online cigarettes camel has decreased after years of education and laws, the number of people stricken by heart attacks has also been going down. These analyses of the data indicate that an outright ban on smoking in public accelerates the process.

After years of debate and heated resistance from the tavern and restaurant lobbies, the Wisconsin Legislature finally forged a compromise last spring. The law will set a uniform standard across the state that smoking is not permitted in places where the public gathers indoors.

Stanton Glantz, co-author of the Circulation study, told USA Today that smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks in three ways.

“First, they protect smokers themselves,” the newspaper reported. “Second, they protect nonsmokers — especially waiters and bartenders — from secondhand smoke. Third, they encourage people to quit or smoke less by making it more difficult for people to find a place to light up.”

Goff, an American Heart Association spokesman who wasn’t involved in either study, cited an estimate that Americans spend $475.3 billion on cardiovascular disease every year, both in direct costs, such as hospital stays, and indirect costs, such as missed work. The average heart attack patient runs up at least $14,000 in hospital bills, and cardiac rehab, medication and other care cost even more, Goff said.

Smoking ban opponents argue that business owners should have the choice regarding what happens on their private property. But this is not the first law ever passed to regulate public health in those businesses. Making it illegal to poison the air is certainly an appropriate government action.

Next July 1, Wisconsin joins 31 other states that forbid smoking in the workplace, including restaurants and taverns. It’s about time.

source: www.greenbaypressgazette.com

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