Workplace smoking ban cuts emergency room admissions

Workplace smoking bans will reduce emergency room admissions due to respiratory illness, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers in Dublin, found that emergency room admissions due to respiratory illness dropped significantly in Ireland after the implementation of a workplace smoking ban, compared to admissions that took place before the ban went into effect.

The nationwide workplace smoking ban was introduced in Ireland in March 2004.

“Comparing admissions prior to and after the smoking ban in Ireland we saw a significant reduction in emergency admissions due to cardiopulmonary disease with a trend towards reduced respiratory illness admissions,” said Imran Sulaiman, pulmonology resident at Galway University Hospitals, Galway, Ireland.

“The most pronounced reduction in admissions was in the 20- to 29-year-old age group,” he added.

The researchers also noted a significant reduction in asthma-related admissions as well as a reduction in admissions related to acute coronary syndrome.

To conduct their study, the researchers evaluated data from the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry (HIPE), a computer-based database system designed to collect demographic, clinical and administrative data on discharges and deaths from hospitals nationwide.

There was a significant reduction in emergency hospital admissions due to cardio-pulmonary disease in the two years following the smoking ban, and a trend towards reduced pulmonary admissions.

The most pronounced decrease in pulmonary admissions was observed in the 20- to 29-year-old age group.

A significant decrease also was seen in emergency asthma admissions, and there was a trend towards fewer admissions with acute coronary syndrome, especially among men aged 50 to 59 years and 0 to 69 years.

“The reductions in these admissions may result from reduced exposure of vulnerable individuals to environmental tobacco smoke,” Sulaiman said.

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“This study further proves that the implementation of a workplace smoking ban improves general health and also reduces hospital burden by respiratory illness, one of the most common illnesses to present to the emergency services,” he added.

The study will be presented at the ATS 2011 International Conference in Denver.

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