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Study Finds Workplace Smoking Bans Lower ED Admission Rates

Wednesday May 18, 2011
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Workplace smoking bans are gaining ground globally, and one study has shown that they might have significant health effects.

The study, conducted by researchers in Dublin, found that ED admissions due to respiratory illness dropped significantly in Ireland after the implementation of a workplace smoking ban, compared with admissions that took place before the ban went into effect.

The study was scheduled to be presented this week at the American Thoracic Society 2011 International Conference in Denver.

The nationwide workplace smoking ban was introduced in Ireland in March 2004. Although previous studies have shown workplace smoking bans lead to reduced systemic inflammation and improved respiratory health, as well as reduced emergency admissions due to acute coronary syndromes, lead author Imran Sulaiman, MD, pulmonology resident at Galway University Hospitals in Galway, Ireland, said there was little data concerning the effect of such bans on respiratory illness in an adult, working-age population.

“Comparing admissions prior to and after the smoking ban in Ireland, we saw a significant reduction in emergency admissions due to cardiopulmonary disease with a trend towards reduced respiratory illness admissions,” Sulaiman said, according to a news release.

The researchers also noted a significant reduction in asthma-related admissions as well as a reduction in admissions related to acute coronary syndrome.

To conduct their study, the researchers evaluated data from the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry (HIPE), a computer-based database system designed to collect demographic, clinical and administrative data on discharges and deaths from hospitals nationwide. Admissions data relating to emergency pulmonary, cardiac and cerebrovascular hospital admissions for the two years preceding and the two years succeeding the implementation of the smoking ban were collected, and population, weather, pollution and influenza data for the same time periods were obtained from the official sources.

The researchers used the data to evaluate any change in emergency admissions due to all pulmonary disease and combined cardio-pulmonary illness between the two periods. In addition, they examined admissions due to specific pulmonary diagnoses, acute coronary syndrome and acute cerebrovascular syndrome. The analysis was divided into age and gender groups, and restricted to the working-age population (ages 20 to 70).

There was a significant reduction in emergency hospital admissions due to cardio-pulmonary disease in the two years following the smoking ban, and a trend toward reduced pulmonary admissions overall. The most pronounced decrease in pulmonary admissions was observed in the 20- to 29-year-old age group.

A significant decrease also was seen in emergency asthma admissions, and there was a trend toward fewer admissions with acute coronary syndrome, especially among men ages 50 to 59 and 60 to 69. No difference was observed in cerebrovascular disease.

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