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Monday, June 30, 2008

Health benefits of the smoking ban

This morning's Western Mail tells us that the number of patients suffering a heart attack in Wales has fallen dramatically following the ban on smoking. They say that there was a 12.5% fall in the number of patients admitted to hospital with a heart attack between October and December last year, compared to the same period in 2006, before the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces was introduced in Wales. Some NHS trusts have seen the number of heart attacks fall by up to 40% in the same period.

This reflects the experience elsewhere. Hospital admissions for heart attacks in Scotland and Ireland fell by 17% and 14% respectively in the year after their bans were introduced in 2006 and 2004.

This is undoubtedly good news but we should be clear that the main motivation for introducing the ban was not to take charge of people's health for them but to protect non-smokers from the effects of second-hand smoke. Still it is nice to get that bonus.
There are lies..damn lies...and thank God there's Google. A quick search shows almost identical drops in admission from countries which have not introduced a smoking ban. Whatever the reason the connection isn't as simplistic as you make out . To be fair the Western Mail quotes from doctors make that clear...but the WM and you just couldn't resist spinning it. Exept Lib Dems don't "spin"...they "ramp" which is perfectly OK!
My point was not to 'spin' or 'ramp' the connection but to point out that it was not the point of the ban. I did not question the Western Mail's conclusions because they were incidental to my point.
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