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Smoking Bans Effectively cut Rates of Asthma and Preterm Births

Update Date: Mar 28, 2014 10:57 AM EDT

Smoking is detrimental to not only one's own health, but also to the health of others. In the United States, smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Due to these health risks, governments and agencies throughout the world have implemented smoking bans. These bans, according to a new study, can be very effective. Researchers reported that smoking bans in public areas and workplaces have helped reduce the rates of premature births and severe asthma attacks in children.

In this study, the international team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, Hasselt University in Belgium, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital reviewed 11 studies that were conducted in North America and Europe. They had data on more than 2.5 million births as well as 250,000 hospital stays that involved asthma attacks in children. The children were all under 12-years-old.

The team calculated that smoking bans were tied to a 10 percent reduction in the number of premature children born and the number of severe asthma attacks in children. The researchers also found a five percent decline in the number of children who were born small despite reaching full term.

"Our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level," the lead author, Dr. Jasper Been from Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands, said according to BBC News.

Currently, smoke-free laws protect 16 percent of the global population. However, previous studies have reported that roughly 40 percent of children throughout the world are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke. In order to reduce these risks, the study's findings suggest that more anti-smoking legislations need to be enforced.

"The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question," said co-author of the study, Professor Aziz Sheikh, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland reported by Philly.

The study was published in The Lancet.

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