Hospitalizations for heart attacks and strokes declined significantly after Texas city imposes smoking ban
A recent study has shown that not only did heart attacks and strokes decline significantly in all residents of a Texas city after a citywide smoking ban, but that hospitalizations for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma also dropped for some.
The study compared hospital discharge rates from July 2004 through June 2006 (before the ban) with discharge rates from July 2006 through June 2008 (after the ban) in Beaumont, Texas. These rates then were compared with hospital discharge rates in Tyler, Texas, which did not have a smoking ban at that time.
Using hospital discharge data – which includes each patient’s diagnosis – enabled researchers to measure changes in the frequency of several tobacco-related illnesses, said Debra Cherry, MD, with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler and one of the study’s authors.
COPD, asthma hospitalizations in whites fell after ban
After Beaumont’s smoking ban, hospitalization rates declined for African-Americans, whites, and individuals in both groups diagnosed with heart attacks and strokes. Heart attack hospitalizations dropped 26 percent and hospitalization for strokes decreased by 29 percent, the study said.
Hospitalizations for COPD and asthma also declined for whites, though not for African-Americans. The number of whites discharged with a diagnosis of COPD fell by 36 percent, while the number of whites discharged with an asthma diagnosis fell by 31 percent.
Hospitalization rates in Tyler stayed the same for all the diagnoses except for stroke, which declined 30 percent, Dr. Cherry said. But in Beaumont, hospitalizations for stroke in the non-Hispanic population declined 20 percent more than in Tyler after Beaumont’s ban began.
Texas one of last state’s without smoking ban
“While other studies have shown a similar drop in heart attacks after a smoking ban, this is one of the first to show a racial disparity in health benefits, as well as a decline in tobacco-related diagnoses other than heart attacks,” said Dr. Cherry, an associate professor of occupational medicine at UTHSCT.
“Texas is one of the last states without a statewide-smoking ban. If we had one, we could potentially reduce hospitalization rates for tobacco-related illnesses by a third. That would mean considerable savings, because the cost of caring for people with tobacco-related hospitalizations is quite expensive,” she said.
It’s likely that hospitalizations dropped because non-smokers were protected from second-hand smoke, Dr. Cherry added.
Study published in CDC’s lead online journal
“Air pollution from tobacco smoke may trigger heart attacks, strokes, and breathing problems in non-smokers while the cleaner air in smoke-free environments seems to be associated with a decline in these types of problems,” she said.
The study’s authors don’t know why the ban lowered COPD and asthma discharge rates in whites but not in African-Americans. However, national studies have shown that African-Americans who are smokers smoke less, on average, than do whites, Dr. Cherry said.
The study was published in the lead online journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy.
For more than 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UTHSCT’s annual operating budget of $138.8 million represents a major economic impact of over $347 million for the Northeast Texas region. Since 2002, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research have been awarded more than $120 million in research dollars. As the academic health science center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education programs – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond. UTHSCT is also the program sponsor of the residency program in internal medicine at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.