Child hospital admissions for asthma slump after smoking ban
Hospital admissions for child asthma attacks fell by 12.3% in first year after 2007 smoking ban in EnglandExperts say law change may have made adults more aware of dangers of passive smoking
17:19 GMT, 21 January 2013
23:58 GMT, 21 January 2013
The number of children being admitted to hospital to be treated for asthma attacks has dropped sharply since the smoking ban came into effect.
Experts believe the law may have made smokers more aware of the dangers of second-hand smoke at home.
This is despite the fact that the legislation only applies to work and public spaces.
Exposure: Experts believe exposing children to less second-hand smoke could reduce asthma attacks
Researchers at Imperial College
London found NHS hospital admissions for children under 14 for asthma
attacks fell by 12.3 per cent in England in the year after July 2007,
when the ban came in.
In the two subsequent years, admissions were 3.4 per cent lower.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the total
fall in the three years to July 2010 was equivalent to 6,802 hospital
The drop was found in both boys and girls, in homes across all social classes and in both cities and rural areas.
Admissions for severe child asthma attacks had previously been rising
from 2002 by 2.2 per cent a year, peaking at 26,969 admissions in the
year before the ban.
Asthma affects approximately one in every 11 children in the country.
In other research, experts have found that hospital admissions for
childhood asthma fell after legislation banning smoking in public spaces
was introduced in Scotland and North America, before the law in
Dr Christopher Millett, of Imperial College’s School of Public Health,
said: ‘Previous studies have suggested the smoke-free law led more
people to abstain from smoking voluntarily at home and in cars.
‘We think exposing children to less second-hand smoke in these settings probably played an important role.’
Immediately following the ban, experts found a 10 per cent fall in heart attacks in England and it was suggested that older people who never smoked benefited the most.
It's hard to recall now, but smoking was banned in bars and cafes less than six years ago
Previous studies have shown hospital admissions for childhood asthma fell after smoke-free legislation was introduced in Scotland and North America.
Emily Humphreys, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Asthma UK, said: 'It’s great to see growing evidence of the positive impact of smoke-free legislation.
'This is something we campaigned for, so it is particularly encouraging that there has been a fall in children’s hospital admissions for asthma since its introduction.
'We have long known that smoking and second hand smoke are harmful – they not only trigger asthma attacks which put children in hospital but can even cause them to develop the condition.
'We’ve seen the benefits of reducing second-hand smoke exposure; now we need to do more to prevent children and young people from taking up smoking by introducing plain packaging for tobacco.’
Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: 'This research is another indication that the smoking ban was a great step towards helping protect children’s health, as well as making many smokers think more about the harmful effects it has on them.
'Many people think of the ban as just being about smoking in pubs, but this research shows that, with all public places being covered, children have been notable beneficiaries of the legislation.
'Second-hand smoke is still an on-going danger for children, however, and research published since the smoking ban has shown that there are still 300,000 GP visits every year from children as a result of passive smoking.
'As a society we must keep moving forward in ensuring that we protect our children from passive smoking.
'The next logical step would be to see a ban on smoking in cars when children are present, as the concentration of smoke caused by smoking within the small enclosed space of a car can be significantly greater than we used to see in pubs before the smoking ban.'