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Report Says Smoking Ban Helps Out to Cut Heart Attacks

Government restrains on secondhand smoke in New York led to nearly 4,000 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks in 2004, according to a new statewide study.

In the study, available in the American Journal of Public Health, the State Department of Health reviewed nearly half a million-hospital admissions for what is known as acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Researchers finished that such admissions fell more than 8 percent in 2004 from what would have been the expected level of admissions for that year. That was equal to 3,813 fewer hospital admissions, they said.

At an average cost of $14,772 for each heart-attack admission, the entire savings is around $56.3 million, researchers said.

The 2003 state ban on smoking in many public places is "a public health intervention that hardly costs anything, so to accrue that kind of savings from an inexpensive intervention is really unparalleled," said Ursula Bauer, the director of the Health Department's tobacco control program and writer of the study.

The study is more inclusive than similar studies that enclosed only a few hospitals in a few counties. It examined 10 years of existing data, from 1994 to 2004, covering all of the state's 62 counties and more than 250 hospitals. It looked at records for admissions for 462,396 heart attacks.

Researchers paid attention on the year after the July 2003 enactment of the Clean Indoor Air Act, which proscribed smoking in bars, restaurants, banquet halls and places where workers were paid tips or wages.

By means of a statistical model incorporating the 10 years of heart-attack data, state health researchers recognized factors connected with heart attacks: people suffer more heart attacks in winter; there are different rates in different counties; heart attacks are dropping anyway because of better medical care; and, more vital, local governments have been curbing smoking since 1995.

If researchers, in effect, deduct the factors that affect heart attack rates, then what remains is likely to be the effect of the 2003 ban, said Harlan R. Juster, the Health Department's director of tobacco surveillance, evaluation and research and an author of the study.

By this indirect reasoning, the number of hospital admissions for heart attacks must have been 49,225 for 2004, but was 45,412.



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