The British Medical Journal has released a report into the effects of smoke-free workplaces on the rate of heart attacks in the English population. The report finds that a ban on smoking in workplaces has resulted in a 2.4% fall in heart attacks which equates to 12,000 people. This is good news but it could have been better, or more relevant to workplace safety issues.
The study conclusion acknowledges that
“The considerably smaller decline in admissions observed in England compared with many other jurisdictions probably reflects aspects of the study design and the relatively low levels of exposure to secondhand smoke in England before the legislation.” [emphasis added]
Low levels of cigarette smoke may have been the reality across all workplaces but this is unlikely to have been the case in English pubs, from personal experience.
Research, similar to that undertaken above, would be very useful if it was to assess the cardiovascular disorder rate in hotel workers where the smoke-free obligation has existed since July 2007. Hotel workers are a readily defined group who could not avoid exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke and a study of the health impacts of this sector could reinforce the wisdom of smoke-free legislation and could show how quickly a common social and public health hazard can be turned around.
The above study is good news, particularly for the 12,000 who may now have the chance to die from old age, but analysing a smaller, more targeted population sample in high exposure environments might have more international significance and application.