Circulation Study Reaffirms Smokefree Laws Improve Cardiovascular Health
September 26, 2006
Contact: Cynthia Hallett
(510) 841-3032

Circulation Study Reaffirms Smokefree Laws Improve Cardiovascular Health
Heart Attack Rates Fall by 30% in Pueblo, Colorado

BERKELEY, CA, September 26 -- A new study published in the October edition of the scientific journal Circulation ( finds that Pueblo, Colorado's smokefree workplace law resulted in a nearly 30% decline in heart attacks .The study reaffirms the findings of the recent U.S. Surgeon General's Report, "The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke," and the 2003 Helena Heart Study, published in the British Medical Journal, that comprehensive smokefree workplace laws have immediate improvements on community health.

The Pueblo heart attack study, authored by Drs Carl Bartecchi, Robert N. Alsever, Christine Nevin-Woods, William M. Thomas, Raymond O. Estacio, Becki Buher Bartelson, and Mori J. Krantz, looked at the number of hospital admissions in Pueblo, Colorado for acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) during a three-year period from January 2002 to December 2004. This timeframe covered the year and a half before the city's Smoke-Free Air Act was enacted on July 1, 2003, as well as a year and a half afterward. In the year and a half following the enactment of the ordinance, the number of heart attack admissions dropped from 399 to 291, representing a 27 percent (108 lives) decline in heart attacks in Pueblo.

"There were many studies before that show that secondhand smoke exposure negatively affects the heart, but this report adds and certainly confirms that eliminating secondhand smoke from all indoor environments is associated with a rapid reduction in heart attacks, which is incredibly significant," said lead author Dr. Carl Bartecchi with the Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "After the smaller Helena study, the U.S. Centers of DC recommended that people at risk of coronary heart disease should avoid secondhand smoke. Our study strengthens the federal government's recommendation."

This report marks the second U.S. community to examine data on hospital admissions for heart attacks following the implementation of a comprehensive smokefree law. Almost three years ago, the British Medical Journal published a similar study out of Helena, Montana, which noted a 40 percent drop in hospital admissions for heart attacks during a six-month period after the city enacted a smokefree law for indoor public places.

Circulation is the Journal of the American Heart Association and one of the most esteemed peer-reviewed medical journals in the United States.

According to Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, "The Pueblo Heart Study is another report to add to the growing body of scientific evidence illustrating the tangible benefits of smokefree air in the workplace. The science is crystal clear. Smokefree air saves lives and saves money."

The average charge for a heart attack during the year and a half of the study was $42,000 per patient. Researchers estimate that roughly $4,536,000 was saved in medical costs during the duration the study's duration.

Communities across the U.S. and around the globe have taken steps to protect nonsmokers from the disease and death caused by secondhand smoke. In fact, over 400 U.S. communities and 18 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have enacted strong smokefree workplace laws, according to the ANR Foundation Local Ordinance Database (chart available at: Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, and Uruguay have also enacted strong smokefree workplace laws.

The study follows on the other historical smokefree air news. On August 17th, Federal Judge Gladys Kessler found the tobacco companies guilty of racketeering and knowingly deceiving the public for more than fifty years of the health dangers associated with active and passive smoking. 2006 also marks the 20th Anniversary of the 1986 U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, the first federal study that identified secondhand smoke as a health hazard, as well as the 30th anniversary of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and the inception of the nonsmokers' rights movement in Berkeley, California.