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Smoke-Free Workplace Laws Provide Blueprint for Prevention

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 31, 2012

The dangers and costs of cigarette smoking have been widely known for decades. It would be difficult to find any credible source that would defend smoking in the workplace or in other public areas. The only question left unresolved is the quantifiable effectiveness of workplace smoking bans.

The answer may be better than expected.

New studies suggest that workplace smoking bans are proving to be remarkably effective tools for reducing a number of smoking-related illnesses, both among smokers and those affected by second-hand smoke. 

A study out this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides impressive findings. Researchers in Olmsted County Minnesota, home of the Mayo Clinic, examined public health data in the county in the 18 months immediately before and after a smoke-free workplace law ordinance was passed by the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners in 2007.

The JAMA study found that myocardial infarction fell by 33%—from 150.8 to 100.7 per 100,000 population, and sudden cardiac death fell by 17%,  from 109.1 to 92.0 per 100 000 population.

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