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 521.

    Sorry, I was trying to think like a politician. Don't give them any ideas either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    I'm a non-smoker who grew up with a father who smoked heavily until he quit when I was about 8 or 9. He never smoked in the house.

    I was one of those who totally welcomed the public smoking ban, but have to agree with the majority of smokers in this forum in questioning just what this is supposed to have done to combat child asthma when the areas it affects have little to do with children...

  • Comment number 519.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    @ Remus

    If you actually read the article, you'll see it offers a plausible explanation for the decrease in childhood asthma admissions despite the ban being in places children usually aren't...

    "We increasingly think it's because people are adopting smoke-free homes when these smoke-free laws are introduced..."

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    What a load of Do-Gooders PC rubbish. What will they think of next to ram their meaning down the throats of others. You lot make me ashamed to be British ! I had child-asthma, neither of my parents smoked, nor did anyone who I had regular contact with as a child. I grew out of it and had a tough military career in perfect health. Try to fool someone else you sad bunch of know-alls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    Mike from Brum #460
    Yes the tax on most other things is 20%, the remining 80% is split between the manufacturer and seller. Both of these will pay tax on their profits, and will usually employ others who pay tax on their earnings and will also pay more tax if they spend what they earn.Ultimately the tax is still paid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    498.L Jenks
    "British citizens in their 80's fought Hitlers nazi regimen and they can't have a fag in their local pub."

    Errr, I think they are probably all dead by now if they fought Hitler in their 80's.
    Have you considered the possibility that that's why they can't "have a fag in their local pub"?
    (if they can find a pub which hasn't closed down)

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    @510 - So, all you have to do is prove to me that smoking caused the death. Not because a person died of a disease, smoked and so the doctor said "Oh, he smoked and that caused the death". Actual, proper, 100% proof. I dont smoke by the way, but believe we live in a free society and not one where I dictate what you can and cannot do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    5 Minutes ago
    105.Rob Wilkinson "Excellent news. All they have to do now is to ban potato crisps and fast food"
    There is no parallel, because whilst blowing smoke on someone is at best unpleasant, someone's love of fast food affects no-one else.
    By that logic though they should ban alcohol

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    @461 Jze008 Never said anyone has to do anything, Free country as far as I am concerned.
    @487 Connor MacLeod. What is a expert, if a so called expert disagrees with him or her that in my mind makes them not an expert.
    @503 Dr Feelgood thats not what you said. You made a cast iron statement and never mentioned any forms of asthma. I believe central heating is also bad as air is to dry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    The only way they can definably point the finger at smoking being the cause of childhood asthma, is to prove that all childhood admissions are directly related to second-hand smoking. Something that is impossible to do. This is very selective and not particularly accurate to blame secondhand smoking for asthma in young people, something this report seems to be used to indicate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.


    That's true from a money point of view but what about the emotional cost of kids losing their parents years earlier than they should, due to smoking.
    If you just wanted to kill everyone off before pension age you could extend the argument to legalising heroin and crack cocaine and taxing both heavily ...!

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    All of the smokers complaining about bans are pathetic!
    I personally get annoyed when I have smokers sitting near me in a beer garden... or anywhere for that matter!"

    Mr Kettle, meet Mr Pot

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    It's funny how the country backs gay people, who were systematically discriminated against because of their sexual preference which is not illegal in any way; but for smokers, everyone's response seems to be to "stub it out".
    Make it illegal otherwise leave them alone!

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    @ ConnorMacLeod > There's a reason why they are the experts and you are not... Is that reason being then they can make up any lie that they like without corroborative proof put from an expert in the title then you will get all the sheeple saying it must be a true an expert told me. MUGS

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    I would like to see the cause and effect link explained. Not smoking at work really is unlikely to stop my child getting an asthma attack. Perhaps a little deeper research looking at WHY not just trying to make the ban look a good thing might turn something useful up - perhaps the lower use of an additive in food?

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    I agree that this cannot purely be down to smoking alone. As many people pointed out, they grew up around smoke when they were younger and hardly anyone had asthma.

    As well as cars and pollution not helping asthma there is another logical idea. Double Glazing. When it was first becoming the norm there was no ventilation and asthma increased. Now they include vents + more and asthma drops.

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    All above equally as likely to be the cause vs reduction in smoking.
    What complete rubbish.
    The study is about a reduction in asthma attack admissions.
    Smoke is a known irritant which causes asthma attacks.
    Stop making excuses.
    Smokers cause others to have asthma attacks - just face the facts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    Re @411 Dr Feelgood. I hope you are not a real Doctor because if you are on your say so I will have to sue my Doctor for telling me exercise good for me. As for getting breathless well even non smokers get that when they run for the bus etc or exercise.
    Actually, excerise IS a trigger for those with this type of Asthma. I know this because i have it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    39% of lung donations from smokers

    More than one in three lung transplants in the last three years have been from donors who smoked, Health Minister Earl Howe has disclosed.

    Read more:


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