Study Connects Smoking Bans and Lower Asthma Hospitalizations among Children

A study published online in March, 2014, by the journal The Lancet reports that “the number of premature births and children’s hospital visits for asthma dropped significantly in parts of the United States, Canada, and Europe barely a year after they enacted smoking bans,” according to the New York Times.  “The new analysis combined the results of 11 studies encompassing more than 2.5 million births and nearly 250,000 asthma attacks. Experts called it the best evidence to date that legislation creating smoke-free public places and workplaces improves children’s health, even in the womb. The results are ‘very impressive,’ said Dr. Brian Mercer, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, who noted that half a million American babies are born prematurely each year. ‘If you could prevent 10 percent, you’d prevent nearly 50,000 premature babies in the U.S. alone each year,’ said Dr. Mercer, who was not involved in the study….After an exhaustive review of relevant studies spanning 38 years, the researchers analyzed five that looked at perinatal and child health after local smoking bans in North America and six studies conducted after national bans in Europe. Hospital visits for childhood asthma and premature births both declined about 10 percent in the year after smoking bans took effect, the researchers found.”

The journal abstract and the New York Times article are available online.