Smoke-Free Workplace Laws Lead to Decline in Heart Attacks

A substantial decline in the incidence of myocardial infarction (MI, heart attacks) appears to be associated with smoke-free workplace laws, according to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers published in Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Richard Hurt, M.D., and his colleagues at the Mayo Clinic evaluated the incidence of MI and sudden cardiac death (SCD) during the 18 months before and after the implementation of smoke-free ordinances in Olmsted County, Minn.

A smoke-free restaurant ordinance was took effect in 2002, followed by a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law in 2007.

“… people with known coronary artery disease should have no exposure to secondhand smoke. It is simply too dangerous.”

–        Dr. Richard Hurt

The incidence of MI declined 33 percent from 18 months prior to the implementation of the smoke-free restaurant law to 18 months after the smoke-free workplace law took effect.

“The strength of our findings should bring to an end any “debate” about the serious effects of secondhand smoke on health,” said Hurt, adding “clinicians should add secondhand smoke exposure as a modifiable risk factor for heart disease.”

Hurt and the other study authors urge all people to avoid secondhand smoke to the extent possible but “people with known coronary artery disease should have no exposure to secondhand smoke. It is simply too dangerous.”

Drawing on data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a long-term, collaborative medical records project among health care providers in Olmsted County, the researchers found the incidence of MI declined by 33 percent from 150.8 to 100.7 per 100,000 population, and the incidence of SCD declined by 17 percent from 109.1 to 92 per 100,000 population.

During this time, the prevalence of smoking declined, and rates of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, and obesity either remained constant or increased.

Study Background

In additional to Dr. Hurt, study authors include Ivana T. Croghan, Ph.D.; Darrell R. Schroeder, M.S.; Susan A. Weston, M.S.; and Sheila M. McNallan, M.P.H., Jon. O. Ebbert, M.D.; and Veronique L. Roger, M.D., M.P.H., all of the Mayo Clinic.

The study was supported by a grant from ClearWay Minnesota, an independent, nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of residents of Minnesota by reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Other grantees include the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health.

Read more at the Archives of Internal Medicine

Dr. Richard Hurt talks about the study >> Watch the video