In an unsurprising development, smoke-free laws have lead to fewer hospitalizations

Two studies released this week have shown that laws to prevent smoking in workplaces have meant that fewer people are being sent to the hospital. And yet somehow these laws are still contentious.

First is an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that specifically links a decrease in incidence of myocardial infarction in one Minnesota county to the introduction of smoke-free workplace laws. In 2002 the law was enacted, and by 2007 all workplaces - including bars - had to be totally smoke free. The study looked at the rates of sudden cardiac death and myocardial infarction in the 18 months before the law took effect, and the 18 months after its final implementation.

The result was a drop in incidence of myocardial infarction from 150.8 to 100.7 per 100,000 population, and in sudden cardiac death dropped 17% percent from 109.1 to 92 per 100,000.

The second study is in the journal Circulation, and is a meta-analysis of 45 studies looking at 33 smoke-free laws across the USA and the world. Overall, the study found that rapidly after the laws came into place, there was a 15% drop in heart attack hospitalizations, 16% decrease in stroke hospitalizations, and a 24% drop for respiratory diseases, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

And the more comprehensive and wide reaching the laws, like those that include restaurants and bars, the larger the change.

So yes, saying you can't smoke in bars is better for you and everyone around you.