Smoke-Free Areas and Workplaces Shown to Save Lives

Smoke-Free Areas and Workplaces Shown to Save Lives
General Health

non smoking areaSmoke-free workplaces and public businesses weren’t always the order of the day. Depending on your age, you likely remember smoker break-rooms or even people lighting up at their desks. But in recent decades, that all began to change. With the knowledge of just how harmful the chemical clouds of second-hand smoke are, workplace smoking rules began to change. In 2007, smoke-free workplaces became the norm.

Researchers used the year 2007 to find that instituting smoke-free areas actually does save lives and keeps people healthier than before.

As reported by, the study was initially published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers with the Mayo Clinic of Rochester found that the smoke-free workplace laws were associated with a significant drop in the incidence of myocardial infarction in Olmstead County, Minnesota.

“We report a substantial decline in the incidence of MI from 18 months before the smoke-free restaurant law was implemented to 18 months after the comprehensive smoke-free workplace law was implemented five years later.”

Compared with the 18 months before smoke-free workplace laws were instated, heart attack incidence fell by 33 percent from 150.8 per 100,000 people to 100.7. Sudden cardiovascular death fell by 17 percent.

While the risks of secondhand smoke and the health effects of smoking were long suspected, there was no official government position on the matter until 2006 when then-Surgeon General Richard Carmona said that it may be harming the health of nonsmokers.

If cigarettes were tobacco and nothing else, we may be having a slightly different discussion. But considering the chemical additives added to the tobacco, is it any wonder that their chemical plumes have deadly effects on anyone in the near vicinity? According to the CDC, more than 7,000 chemicals are found in tobacco and tobacco smoke – about 70 are known carcinogens.

Harvard scientists found that children who live in smoke-free homes have far less cotinine in their blood—39 percent less to be exact. Cotinine is a chemical formed when nicotine enters the body. It is a marker used to measure nicotine exposure.

But smoke-free workplaces and public places can only help so much. Children who live in homes where smoke is present get few benefits from local smoke-free laws when they are forced to inhale the smoke at home on a daily basis.

Of course the whole issue of “rights” is another discussion.