Exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to a person’s health and should be avoided, especially those with known coronary artery disease or heart disease. Mayo Clinic researchers have found that the incidence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths have decreased since the implementation of comprehensive smoke-free laws in Olmsted County, Minn., in 2002.
Richard Hurt, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center, led the study and used data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, to look at the relationship of smoke-free workplaces and restaurants in Olmsted County and the incidence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. The results were presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Orlando.
The population-based study showed that during the 18 months before Olmsted County’s first smoke-free law for restaurants was passed in 2002, the regional incidence of heart attack was 212.3 cases per 100,000 residents. In the 18 months following a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in 2007, in which restaurants and workplaces became smoke-free, that rate dropped to 102.9 per 100,000 residents — a decrease of about 45 percent. Additionally, during these two time periods, the incidence of sudden cardiac death fell from 152.5 to 76.6 per 100,000 residents — a 50 percent reduction.
“We now know that not only do smoke-free workplace laws help avoid having a heart attack, but they also reduce the chances of having sudden cardiac death,” Dr. Hurt says. “Those are both very dramatic things that have a very big impact on workers as well as patrons.”
Dr. Hurt played an instrumental role in the passage of smoke-free ordinances in Olmsted County and the state of Minnesota. He says evidence from this new study will strengthen efforts by the Global Smoke-Free Worksite Challenge, a recently formed tobacco control advocacy collaboration that debuted at a Clinton Global Initiative event. The Challenge will encourage other countries and employers to expand the number of employees able to work in smoke-free environments.
Dr. Richard Hurt discusses the findings of the study in this video: