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 581.

    So all you people defending tobacco are saying that it's actually a good thing and that it is beneficial to the health?
    No, i think most of use are defending our right to smoke, the same right you have to drink, drive or indeed eat copious amounts of fast food...!

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    The usual 'smokers should pay for their healthcare' comments. If there were no smokers then the drop in finance would have to be made up by non smokers. Did these people not go to school?

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    I stopped smoking when my kids were born because:
    a. I didn't want to screw their lungs up
    b. I didn't want them to start.
    I now can lead a healthy life and keep fitter than I would have done otherwise and reduce my chances of an early death.
    I've also saved IRO £20,000......

    Any constructive arguments against that?

    Or just a load of whining and bleating?

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    Maybe Asthma just is not as fashionable as it was ten years ago?

    Doctors go through phases of diagnosing the "in" disease.

    At the moment it is diabetes because they get a bonus for each diabetic on their lists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    There is a relationship between alcohol and smoking. The more I drink the more I can tolerate the smell of cigarette smoke. However when I get up next day and realise how bad my clothes smell I regret having so much to drink LOL! Truth is smoking DOES affect other people in the room, in many ways, so tolerance and freedom - yes - but in the context of consideration for others :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    @467 politicsofenvy
    Anti-smoker peer review : “You sign my paper off as correct and I’ll sign yours”. Tobacco ‘science’ is dead (particularly after the WHO FCTC article 5.3). It is Tobacco CONTROL ‘Peer review’ that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    With the demise of unbiased, ethical TC science, we need to revert to common sense, something that most of us possess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    If people think smoking ban caused child asthma rate to drop then children of this country probabaly spend too much time in pubs and restaurants...

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    Re Dr Feelgood. Hope you don't think I am picking on you as I am not just exchange views and I respect yours, I am going to have an other go at you though. I take Ventolin for COPD and have never smoked and worked in the open air all my life (in building Industry). Everyone benefits from a proper warm up,
    Didnt think you were, just stating the facts about one form of asthma!

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    Tobacco tax double what smoking costs the NHS? True but not the whole story (death by fires; early retirement, premature death). Policy Exchange calculated the cost to be £14 billion pa but that study underestimated NHS costs by £2.5BN so it should be £16+BN. For the same period the cancer stick manufacturers association say tax incl VAT was £11BN. So non-smokers subsidise smokers by £5BN pa.

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    As an asthma sufferer, second had smoke does not instigate an attack, although dogs, cats, horses etc do. So please pet owners keep your pets in your own homes and gardens so I can breath easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    Comment number 48 is an Editors' Pick
    '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'

    I think the fall in NHS costs in dealing with smoke related issues would offset the increase in tax.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    Those of you who are asking why Asthma rates have increased since the 1970's when parents smoking around children was common? Simple. Asthma was regularly misdiagnosed until quite recently (as happened to me for 30 years). Believe me, second hand smoke and Asthma are a terrible mix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    What an utter lot of implausible propaganda!

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    @565 - Well, as I dont know you, no, your drinking will never affect me, but it may with someone you take a dislike to at some point.
    Also, it may please you to know that I am a non-smoker but I believe in every humans rights to do whatever they want to do in life if it is legal. Who makes the laws in this country.? A few people who believe the rest of us should adhere to their beliefs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    @548. jzc008
    @554. adgwytc
    'How do you know Einstein would have said that?'

    Einstein was a life member of the Montreal Pipe Smokers Club. The quote is his. Some people take pleasure out of smoking, some out of glass of scotch. Einstein stated that it helped him relax & think. We all do things that are bad for us. So what? If it makes life better, leave people alone. PS I'm not a smoker.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    Comment #542 cont.:

    Clearly vehicles may also be a factor in the incidence of child asthma, possibly even responsible for much of the overall increase since the 1970s. The top comment (#36) may be correct in this, but is using it to dodge the fact that the smoking ban is the only reasonable explanation for the dramatic drop since 2007 and a similar drop in Scotland since the (earlier) ban there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.


    2 Minutes ago

    @559 - Okay, have read it again and the same conclusion. Whats your point? Answer the other question that you rabid "Anti-smokers" never answer... do you drink
    My moderate drinking does not effect you in any way.
    Your smoking triggers my asthma.
    Notice the difference?

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    They're making the rather implausible assumption that it's because people are now smoking less at home.
    It's more plausible to suggest that with more people smoking at home, they're now ventilating their homes better, so getting rid of more airborne allergens.
    Like the increase in the number of people suffering respiratory problems on planes after they banned smoking - for the same reason

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    Enough already about smokers rights and car pollution being the real culprit! I was a kid in the 50's and 60's. Both parents smoked in the house and made my life a misery. Who was there then to protect my right to smoke-free air? Car pollution hasn't dropped yet smoking in the home clearly has over the last 10 years. Lets ALL celebrate the benefit to our kids, smoking and non-smoking parents alike

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    The English asthma miracle.
    The BBC has reported the latest heart-warming news about the English smoking ban…


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