By Nathan Seppa
Web edition: October 29, 2012
Print edition: December 1, 2012; Vol.182 #11 (p. 18)
In a Minnesota county that banned smoking in public places in 2007, the heart attack rate dropped by one-third after the ban compared with the period just before the restrictions were phased in, researchers report in the Oct. 29 Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study is the longest analysis to date to measure a smoking ordinance’s effect on community-wide heart health, says study coauthor Richard Hurt, an internist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The new data reflect less smoke exposure and probably also less smoking, she says. “One of the arguments was that smoke-free policies would restrict it in the workplace but that people would smoke more at home,” Ling says. “But actually, studies suggest ... that people don’t compensate.”