A recent study done in Flanders, Belgium by Hasselt University has proven that public smoking bans contribute to a reduction in premature child delivery. A preterm/premature is defined as a birth before 37 weeks gestation.The study published on the British Medical Journal’s website analyzed more than 606,877 births between 2002 and 2011.
Research focused on the impact of smoke-free legislation introduced in three phases in Belgium. The first ban in January 2006 covered public places and work places. Then in 2007, the ban covered restaurants and finally in January 2010 in bars serving food. All live and single babies born between 24 and 44 gestation period were included in the study.
The authors of the study state, “We found reductions in the risk of preterm birth after the introduction of each phase of the smoking ban. No decreasing trend was evident in the years or months before the bans. We observed a step change in the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery of −3.13% on 1 January 2007, and an annual slope change of −2.65% after 1 January 2010. These changes could not be explained by personal factors, time related factors or population related factors … ”
“Our study shows a consistent pattern of reduction in the risk of preterm delivery with successive population interventions to restrict smoking. This finding is not definitive but it supports the notion that smoking bans have public health benefits from early life.” The reduction of preterm correspond to the three timings of the ban. Overall it corresponds to a fall of six premature babies in every 1,000 births.
It is well known that smoking or inhalation of second-hand smoke leads to adverse effects on pregnant women and the unborn child like lower birth weights and shorter gestation periods. But the effects of a public ban of smoking were not known till now.
Smoking bans also have significant effects on society. Reuters reported, “A study from England published last month found that the introduction of smoking bans there led to swift and dramatic falls in the number of children admitted to hospital suffering asthma attacks. And research published in 2009 also found the ban on smoking in public places in England led to a swift and significant drop in the number of heart attacks, saving the National Health Service 8.4 million pounds ($13.1 million) in the first year.”
Some facts regarding tobacco
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco already kills around 6 million people a year worldwide. By 2030, if current trends continue, it predicts tobacco could kill 8 million people a year.
More than 25% of all deaths in the U.S. are attributable to tobacco. Worldwide, more than 600,000 non-smokers die each year from exposure to second-hand smoke. Nearly a third of these victims are children. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including 250 that are known to be harmful to human health and more than 50 known carcinogens. A person dies from tobacco every 8 seconds.