Researchers in Dublin have found a significant drop in A&E admissions for respiratory illness since the workplace smoking ban was introduced.
The group also found a significant reduction in asthma-related admissions as well as a reduction in admissions for acute heart conditions.
Dr Imran Sulaiman from Galway University Hospital who led the study said a comparison of the number of hospital admissions prior to and after the smoking ban showed a significant reduction in emergency treatment for heart and lung disease and breathing difficulties.
“The most pronounced reduction in admissions was in the 20- to 29-year-old age group,” added Dr. Sulaiman, who completed the study while a resident at Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin.
The researchers looked at data from the Hospital Inpatient Inquiry (HIPE) which collects information from hospitals nationwide.
The number of patients admitted for emergency pulmonary, cardiac and cerebrovascular condtions in the two years prior to the 2004 ban and figures for the succeeding two years were compared.
The information was divided into age and gender groups and restricted to the working age population between 20 and 70 years of age.
It showed a significant drop in emergency hospital admissions for these conditions in the two years after the ban.
It also showed a trend towards fewer admissions with acute coronary syndrome, especially among man aged 50-59 years.
“The reductions in these admissions may result from reduced exposure of vulnerable individuals to environmental tobacco smoke,” Dr. Sulaiman said.
“These results further emphasize the benefit of reducing secondhand smoke exposure.
“We already know the disastrous effects smoking has on our health,” he continued.
“This study further proves that the implementation of a workplace smoking ban improves general health and also reduces hospital burden by respiratory illness, one of the most common illnesses to present to the emergency services.”
The results are to be presented to the American Thoracic Society meeting in Denver.