Smoking Ban Health Hype Going Up in Smoke

Studies linking smoke-free laws to heart health appear weak
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2009 5:23 PM CDT
A man lights up a cigarette in a shop in York, England Friday June 29, 2007 two days before the smoking ban comes into force in England on July 1.   (AP Photo/John Giles/PA Wire)
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(Newser) – Reporters are covering stories that link smoking bans to lower heart attack rates—which would be terrific news if it were true, Christopher Snowdon writes on Spiked. Even the anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health stood up to a Sunday Times report of a "10% heart attack drop," saying it had no foundation in science. A BBC report claiming even better numbers was based on three studies, and amusing ones at that.

The studies either side-stepped the awkward fact that heart attacks had gone up in cities after smoking bans, or they found a laughably high 40% plunge. For harder data, Snowdon writes, look at hospitals, which have seen no drop in England, Scotland, and Wales after anti-smoking legislation. But "it may be too late for the anti-smoking lobby to back down on this issue," writes Snowdon. "Too many reputations are at stake."