stop smoking handsCommunities that pass laws prohibiting smoking, so-called “smoke-free” laws, can look forward to significantly fewer hospitalizations for heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and other respiratory conditions, according to research results in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.

In looking at 45 studies of 33 smoke-free laws with median follow-up of 24 months, a team at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found significantly lower rates of hospital admissions (or deaths) for all four diagnostic groups examined: coronary events, other heart disease, cerebrovascular accidents, and respiratory disease. More-comprehensive laws were associated with larger changes in risk, according to the research.

“The public, health professionals, and policy makers need to understand that including exemptions and loopholes in legislation – such as exempting casinos – condemns more people to end up in emergency rooms,” said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF. “These unnecessary hospitalizations are the real cost of failing to enact comprehensive smoke-free legislation.”