Doctor's Who Complete Landmark Cardiology Study in Helena, Montana Receive National Smokefree Advocate of the Year Awards

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Contact: Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director
Phone: (510) 841-3032
Mobile: (510) 684-8969

On Wednesday December 10, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) will present their first annual Smokefree Advocate of the Year Awards to Richard P. Sargent, MD, and Robert M. Shepard, MD both of Helena, Montana. ANR will present the national awards during the National Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Boston, MA, at the Marriott Copley Place (Salon E) at 7:00 p.m.

Doctors Sargent and Shepard have been at the forefront of the smokefree policy movement in Montana for four years and have spent over a decade advocating for tobacco disease prevention. The awards recognize their leadership in protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, and their work conducting a landmark cardiology study in Helena, Montana. The study demonstrated that the health benefits of a comprehensive smokefree workplace law including bars and casinos may be much more immediate than previously thought, resulting in a decline of nearly 60% in the number of heart attacks while the smokefree law was in effect.

The study, authored by Drs. Sargent, Shepard, and Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, is the first of its kind to take a serious look at the short-term health impact of a smokefree workplace law. The study, which generated worldwide attention, looked at the number of hospital admissions in Helena for acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) during a sixth month period. It compared the AMI numbers to the same time period in the previous four years, looking at figures for surrounding communities without similar smokefree laws.

According to Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, "Doctor Shepard and Doctor Sargent have provided significant medical evidence that smokefree laws work. Their study validates that there are immediate health benefits to smokefree workplace policies."

"Both Doctors are exceptionally deserving of this honor", added Dick Paulson, Executive Director of the American Lung Association of the Northern Rockies "Their work not only benefits the smokefree effort in Helena, but across Montana and throughout the Nation as well. Their commitment to advocacy and policy work is a model for us all."

Doctor Sargent and Doctor Shepard continue to be instrumental to the smokefree movement in Montana today, providing research expertise, presenting testimony, and building a strong network of physicians to advocate for a smokefree Montana. Another of the Doctors' innovative approaches has been to train a network of physician advocates in smoke free policy. The two doctors have also been active in electing city commission candidates and legislative candidates who support smoke free policy as well as other policy efforts that prevent the death and disease from tobacco use.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA that is dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces.

For more information on this study, including a PowerPoint presentation, please contact ANR at (510) 841-3032.