There's an old saying that you can't legislate morality. When it comes to smoking, however, legislation may have a health impact.
A new data review of multiple studies from countries around the world found a reduction in non-smoker heart disease in those countries that instituted smoking bans.
In a new study, researchers analyzed data from 77 different studiesThese studies were conducted in 21 countries including the US, UK, Canada and Spain.
Although previous research had evaluated how smoking bans reduced smoke in public places, this study looked specifically at health effects.
The researchers found 44 studies that looked at heart disease. Of these, 33 studies showed evidence that heart disease in the population decreased after smoking bans were implemented.
When a smoker lights up in a closed environment like the home or workplace, non-smokers in the same room also inhale the smoke. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, allergies and asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC estimates that since 1964, approximately 2.5 million non-smokers have died from the effects of secondhand smoke.
As the health effects of inhaling secondhand smoke became more apparent, many communities, states and countries have enacted indoor smoking bans.
"The current evidence provides more robust support for the previous conclusions that the introduction of national legislative smoking bans does lead to improved health outcomes through a reduction in second hand smoke exposure for countries and their populations," Kelleher said in a press release. "We now need research on the continued longer-term impact of smoking bans on the health outcomes of specific sub-groups of the population, such as young children, disadvantaged and minority groups."
Dr. Kelleher is a professor at the University College of Dublin School of Public Health.
Dr. Kelleher and colleagues also found that hospital admissions in non-smokers dropped significantly after smoking bans were instituted.
The review was published in the February Cochrane Library.
Information on review funding and conflict of interest was not available.