Smoke-free laws provide substantial health benefits for children, according to a recent study in the Lancet. Environments free of second-hand smoke are associated with a considerable decrease in premature births and a 10 percent reduction in hospitalizations for asthma in children, the Lancet analysis indicates.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that smoke-free environments result in significantly reduced cardiovascular events and hospital admissions caused by respiratory diseases for adults. This is the first study to show similar benefits for perinatal and child health. About 40 percent of children worldwide are exposed to the hazards of second-hand smoke.
Smoke-free laws create environments that decrease this exposure to hazardous second-hand smoke and the negative health affects associated with that exposure. As an added benefit, smoke-free laws for the workplace and public places often encourage people to quit cigarettes and/or to maintain smoke-free homes. This further reduces second-hand smoke exposure for everyone.
The Bottom Line on Smoke-Free Laws
Furthermore, smoke-free laws and policies can result in huge savings on medical costs. For example, a 10 percent decrease in hospitalizations could save the US and Europe an estimated $7 billion every year.
In 1993, the Joint Commission required all hospitals to ban indoor smoking. In 2010, the North Shore-LIJ Health System expanded on this policy to prohibit tobacco use on its outdoor campuses, too. This policy has the potential to:
- decrease exposure to second-hand smoke for patients, visitors and staff members;
- reduce hospitalizations and re-admissions;
- improve health and well-being;
- enhance patient, visitor and employee satisfaction;
- decrease costs associated with tobacco-related disease and disability;
- encourage community members to make their own homes smoke-free; and
- increase attempts to quit tobacco for good.
If a tobacco-free environment motivates you to consider quitting, take advantage of our comprehensive, free stop-smoking programs.