Childhood asthma 'admissions down' after smoking ban

Cigarettes Smoking restrictions came into force in 2007

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There was a sharp fall in the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma after smoke-free legislation was introduced in England, say researchers.

A study showed a 12% drop in the first year after the law to stop smoking in enclosed public places came into force.

The authors say there is growing evidence that many people are opting for smoke-free homes as well.

Asthma UK says the findings are "encouraging".

Researchers at Imperial College in London looked at NHS figures going back to April 2002.

Presenting their findings in the journal Pediatrics, they said the number of children admitted to hospital with severe asthma attacks was rising by more than 2% a year before the restrictions were introduced in July 2007.

Taking that into account, they calculated the fall in admissions in the next 12 months was 12%, and a further 3% in each of the following two years. They say over the three-year period, this was equivalent of about 6,800 admissions.

The fall was seen among boys and girls of all ages, across wealthy and deprived neighbourhoods, in cities and in rural areas.

'Unexpected' benefit

Prior to the smoke-free law much of the debate on the legislation centred on protection of bar workers from passive smoke.

At the time many critics said smokers would respond by lighting up more at home - harming the health of their families. But the authors of this study say there is growing evidence that more people are insisting on smoke-free homes.

The lead researcher, Prof Christopher Millett, said the legislation has prompted unexpected, but very welcome, changes in behaviour.

"We increasingly think it's because people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced and this is because they see the benefits of smoke-free laws in public places such as restaurants and they increasingly want to adopt them in their home.

"This benefits children because they're less likely to be exposed to second hand smoke."

These findings reinforce evidence on the impact of smoke-free legislation from studies in North America and Scotland, which also showed a fall in hospital admissions for children with severe asthma attacks. The law in England has also resulted in fewer admissions for heart attack.

'Particularly encouraging'

Emily Humphreys from the health charity, Asthma UK, welcomed the findings: "This is something we campaigned for, so it is particularly encouraging that there has been a fall in children's hospital admissions for asthma since its introduction.

"We have long known that smoking and second hand smoke are harmful - they not only trigger asthma attacks which put children in hospital but can even cause them to develop the condition."

She said the need now was to do more to prevent children and young people from taking up smoking, and she repeated the charity's call for the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    pet birds set off my asthma ban them all

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    47.Mustafa Yorumcu
    How can you possibly reason that a smoking ban in pubs/restaurants results in reduced smoking at homes ???!?

    OBVIOUSLY because the smoking ban has a) encouraged people to give up altogether or b) made them think about the health hazards of second hand smoke.

    As an ex smoker, I can recommend using the ban to support you to give up this evil addiction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    @ 53. chinkinthearmour

    Wanting a (much) less harmful drug than tobacco legalised is not in any way the same as wanting it to be legal to smoke in public places. Most of the 'pseudo'-intellectuals who are pro-legalisation understand that what people do in their own home to their own body is not the government's business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    So this has nothing to do with the start of the biggest global recession or the huge increase in fuel prices?
    This report is pure speculation!

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    strange i dont hear any calls to extend the ban to the "private clubs" including westminster.perhaps they dont suffer same effects as the rest of you lol.
    Plus, I lived in rural area for 2 years in a private rented house, the black mould was that thick upstairs i could have carpeted my floor with it.i tried to get something done but i got nowhere! I ended up on an inhaler and still suffer effects

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Smokers have a right to smoke but they do not have a right to force other people, including their own children, to smoke. Asthma is a dangerous and scary illness and if figures are suggesting that asthma is improving then it has to be a good thing. Watching a parent smoke in a car with the windows up and with children in the back waiting for the school to open isn't a nice sight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I would love to see a total ban (and this data underlines the need), but getting from here to there is difficult.

    There are a HUGE number of people who have jobs based around the tobacco industry - an over night ban would be devastating.

    Very sadly, that means this has to be done in stages - but it should still be a continuous move towards eradicating it from our culture

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    @16.alan loughlin

    Great idea why not take it further and alot fields far away from towns where these evil smokers must go.

    I like my accasional cigar why should i be treated like social outcast for that?

    There are many other factors that case/affect asthma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Changes in knowledge about health have enabled no-smoking practise in public places. Though the link to asthma has been mooted for many years, despite denials by the tobacco industry, such knowledge has come too late for many children brought up in a smoking environment.

    However I remain puzzled by the frequent pseudo-intellectual support to legalise smoking cannabis, not least other drug uses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Sure . Lead free petrol had nothing to do with it !!! Anti smoking research funded by petrol companies had nothing to do with such publications, and governments who do even consider polonium 210 tax on agriculture fertilizers. I think more research is needed whether cats live longer in smoke free homes or not .!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Another 88% reduction needed, what do we need to ban next?


  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Well there's a poke in the ey for anyone who reckons pubs et al should be allowed to have smokers inside....

    ....even if the ban contributed to a few pubs going out of business (it is not a given, the evidence is very thin on the ground for that claim.....) the right's of our children not to have athma attacks FAR OUT WEIGHTS the right of us iditos who smoke to light up anywhere....

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.


  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    As a smoker for 30years I would give up But feel I am now doing my bit for england. If smoking was banned total there would be a massive rise in Tax then you none smokers would really have somthing to cry about

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I am gobsmacked !!!
    How can you possibly reason that a smoking ban in pubs/restaurants results in reduced smoking at homes ???!? How can you reach such a conclusion ?
    I am a smoker. If anything, I smoke more at home now. Definitely.

    I am happy with the news as well. But don't go creating reasons in support of your expectations.
    The relevance is ZERO !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    i'd say cleaner vehicle emmisions would account for a lot of that, also a drop in open fires in the home,advances in medical care ect
    i'm not knocking the ban but to attribute the drop in admissions to only the smoking ban is bad science and bad journalism

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Another 88% reduction needed, what do we need to ban next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Removing one of the pollutants that contribute towards asthma is only a good thing, and something that can be stopped by the parents. Any caring parent does not smoke indoors or even at home at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I believe that the biggest issue with smoking is not how to stop the current smokers, as we now have a hard core, unlikely to give up easily.

    The main target should be stopping new (young) people taking up the habit in the first place. Considering that new smokers know the health effects, the high cost and the social stigma, yet still smoke, this is something that needs serious research into.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I also think exhaust fumes are a factor in childhood asthma. Look at the babies in buggies. They are at the right height in their prams to suck in the fumes with every breath


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